This Female President Did Something Huge On Her Last Day In Office

Photo: Getty/Monica Schipper/Stringer.

Good news regularly gets lost in our 24-hour media cycle, but it's often worth sifting through the clickbait to find the positive stories – and one such story coming out of Liberia has the potential to change millions of women's lives.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president (until last week) and also Africa's first ever female president, used her last day in office to sign an executive order banning female genital mutilation (FGM) for a year.

The news was overshadowed by the inauguration of Johnson Sirleaf's successor, the former international football star George Weah, on Tuesday.

Around half of all women among Liberia's population of 4.6 million have undergone FGM and it is considered a rite of passage. The practice was removed from the country's domestic violence bill in 2016 because parliamentarians claimed it was a cultural issue.

Johnson Sirleaf's executive order makes it an offence to carry out FGM on anyone under 18, but adults who consent can still undergo the procedure. However, campaigners said FGM should be banned completely and for good, because even women who give their consent have are often pressured to do so.

Some also said the ban may not be enforceable and are now urging the new president Weah to enact a permanent law. Grace Uwizeye, a consultant with international rights group Equality Now, said it was, "too early to celebrate as there is still a long way to go before there is zero tolerance to FGM in Liberia,” Reuters reported.

Campaigners lobbying for FGM to be banned regularly receive death threats and the procedure is usually carried out in secret during initiation ceremonies, in which girls are threatened with death if they speak out.

Most of the 30 countries around the world in which FGM has been documented are in Africa, according to the UN, despite the fact that is has been outlawed in most of them.

Read These Next

How One Woman Is Fighting Female Genital Mutilation In The UK
Breaking the Silence Around Female Genital Mutilation
3 Photographs That Tell The Whole Truth About Female Genital Mutilation (NSFW)

Show Action Button
Show More Comments...