Speaking Worlds

Mariana's blog about
interpretation and translation

On FGM's catastrophic numbers

Today I read terrible news on the Internet. In spite all the work done for decades by UN agencies to raise awareness on the terrible and inhumane practice of Female Genital Mutilation, also known as FGM, still more than 200 million girls and women have undergone this terrible procedure.

Yet, for the past few years, we have seen the headlines in the international press that country after country made it illegal to perform FGM, and naively, we celebrated the news. It has become apparent that the data was wrong by a huge margin, and we now read that 70 million more girls and women than previously estimated have been subjected to this practice.


What this means is that we really don't know how many victims there are today, or how many there will be tomorrow. The reason we don't know is that the data is scattered, hidden. The practice has been banned, has become a part of legislation and is forbidden. Therefore, FGM becomes even harder to assess, the numbers crawl and hid because this has never been a government-enforced event. This a tradition, a ritual, a part of becoming a woman in many communities.

Although the advocacy work has brought results, and this should never be undermined, it is not enough. Legislation and government bodies are one thing, and it is a great victory for women everywhere to know these laws exists. But it is not enough for governments to be on-board.

UN agencies and INGOs are reaching out to communities and giving the training and the education that will empower women to uphold and defend their femininity, and that will change gender balance and perceptions. Through this careful and continuous outreach work, people's minds are slowly becoming aware of new principles of equality and community values are shifting and evolving...

This is where translators and interpreters come in, and our work is ever so important. We are the ones carrying the voice, the message, we are the ones who build the bridges, who convey meaning and who connect with people. We look them in the eyes, we speak in their ears. And all the time we are doing our best to anchor these new messages in people's hearts and minds.

We are the true partners of development, we believe we can change the world, and we do, one word at a time.

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In Peru, on assignment with Oxfam GB.



Mariana Hernandez, English, French and Spanish interpreter and translator My name is Mariana Hernandez; I am a freelance conference interpreter and translator working in English, French and Spanish. I was born and I grew up in Paris, France. Later in life I moved with my family to Latin America, where I eventually started my career, working with international NGOs, United Nations agencies, and private and public sector stakeholders in developing countries. This blog speaks of my work, and the many humanist topics which are close to my heart.



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