Part of our #BlackHistoryMonth series, celebrating inspirational Black figures in healthcare.
Efua Dorkenoo was a nurse, biosocial scientist and tireless campaigner in the battle against FGM (female genital mutilation).
Born in 1949 in Ghana, Dorkenoo moved to London at 19 and worked as a nurse in various hospitals from 1977. Working with African women, she became aware of the horrific impact that FGM had on womens’ lives, and began to actively campaign against the practice.
In 1980, she joined the Minority Rights Group, and travelled throughout the regions of Africa to conduct research for one of the earliest reports published on FGM.
In 1983, she found FORWARD - a British NGO that supports women who have experienced FGM and works toward the abolition of the practice. Two years following this, FGM was officially outlawed in the U.K.
From 1995 to 2001, Dorkenoo worked at WHO, as the acting director for womens’ health, where she was instrumental in affecting policy change on FGM in the UK and overseas. Later, she went onto work as a senior advisor on FGM for the human rights organisation Equality Now.
Dorkenoo passed away in 2014 aged 65, following a battle with cancer. Today. her legacy still lives on. Her life and work changed the course of history for women across the globe, and she remains an inspiration as we fight as a society to see the complete eradication of FGM.