In a significant victory for women’s rights and the global fight against gender-based violence in Washington State, the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Bill sponsored by Senators Keiser, Dhingra, Cleveland, Nguyen, Saldaña, and Valdez was successfully passed and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on April 20, 2023. This accomplishment was largely due to the tireless efforts of community members and state legislators who share a commitment to autonomy and bodily integrity for women and girls.
Sukai Gaye, Communications and Events Manager at LifeWire, is a member of the Washington Coalition to End Female Genital Mutilation, which consists of women’s rights organizations, survivor-led groups, and advocates who worked closely with lawmakers. The Coalition led a powerful campaign that emphasized the need for legislative action to protect girls and women from the irreversible physical and psychological harm caused by FGM. Introduced to the WA Coalition to End FGM by her friend Absa Samba, a survivor and leader of the coalition, Sukai’s relentless efforts, alongside the collective dedication of the coalition, advocates, and allies, led to the successful passage of the FGM Bill
Female Genital Mutilation, a harmful practice that adversely affects millions of girls and women worldwide, has become a growing concern for human rights advocates. Recognizing the urgency to protect vulnerable individuals in Washington State, Sukai committed herself to raising awareness, driving legislative action, and mobilizing support for the bill.
The newly enacted legislation not only criminalizes the practice of FGM but also establishes comprehensive support systems for survivors and preventive measures to eradicate this harmful tradition. Under this law, severe penalties await anyone found guilty of performing FGM or assisting in its execution, thus ensuring a stronger deterrent against this human rights violation.
The enactment of this legislation represents a milestone in the fight against FGM, positioning Washington State as the 41st state and a progressive leader in safeguarding the rights and well-being of women and girls. It serves as a testament to the power of grassroots activism, effective communication, and collaboration between community organizations and lawmakers.
Sukai, driven by her dedication to promoting gender equality and ending violence against women, played a pivotal role in garnering bipartisan support for the bill. Her passionate advocacy helped shape a compelling narrative around the urgency of the issue, collaborating with the Coalition to End FGM and rallying lawmakers to take action.
LifeWire provided support to Sukai in raising awareness about FGM and its detrimental effects on women and girls within the organization. The organization ensured Sukai had the necessary support to carry out her advocacy work and amplified her voice. She kept the progress of the legislation at the forefront of organizational discourse in All Staff meetings and in LifeWire’s Advocacy Team which Sukai co-chairs with DEIB Manager Freddy Vega.
As LifeWire celebrates this momentous achievement, Sukai continues her crucial work in promoting gender equality, supporting survivors, and advocating for policies that safeguard the rights and dignity of women. Her commitment to social justice sets an inspiring example for individuals and organizations alike, reaffirming LifeWire’s belief that positive change is possible through persistent advocacy and shared action.