A survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM), Jaha Dukureh founded Safe Hands for Girls to empower and educate young women and communities about the dangers and effects of FGM. She also began the first youth-led movement against FGM in The Gambia. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 504,000 girls in the United States are at risk of experiencing FGM, a cultural practice still enforced by many African immigrants.
Through her work, Jaha has directly saved more than 100 girls from this harmful practice, and has been instrumental in the creation of the Girls’ Protection Act of 2010, which criminalizes the transport of U.S. girls abroad for FGM. Her 2014 Change.org petition collected more than 220,000 signatures, resulting in the Obama administration directing the CDC to investigate FGM’s prevalence in the United States. Jaha intends to continue her work until FGM is completely eliminated – a goal she would like to reach within a decade.