The city centre of Apia is festive today. The market stalls are laden with handmade mats, baskets and traditional jewellery made by women from rural Samoa; music and laughter lace the air. The two-day market is part of an event to showcase the results of a project that trained and empowered 5,170 nofotane women in the course of the last two years, funded by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality.
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Globally, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM). Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world, with nine in every 10 women and girls cut, many as young as five years old.
Zoila Esperanza Morán never learned how to read or write. As the eldest girl in a family of two sisters and a brother, she never had a chance to go to school. “Education is not important for women,” her mother would say. And so Zoila spent her childhood helping with chores at home, until the age of 15, when she was married off without her consent.