Julia Sukan – lawyer and FORWARD fundraiser

I’d never done fundraising in my life, and this was my first half marathon, but when I had the opportunity to run for a charity, I knew immediately that FGM was the cause I wanted to run for. I first learned about FGM a few years go through a performance poet who talked about her experience of FGM and inspired me to read up about it. What I discovered really concerned me, and it’s been at the back of my mind since then.

When I did my research, FORWARD seemed to be the only big charity dealing with this issue. I felt that FORWARD was very factual and very direct in the way it discussed FGM. It’s an approach that I have a lot of respect for. I felt that FORWARD really understood how to tackle and deal with the issue, directly stating that FGM is a huge problem, a women’s rights issue and a health issue. That’s why I chose to run for FORWARD.

If I think about the issues around FGM too much I want to cry. It really frustrates me. It’s just violence against women, that’s all it is. I feel that it’s just another form of oppression. FGM denies girls the chance of a fulfilling and satisfying life, and it really upsets me that this sort of cruelty is happening to a child. They can’t say yes or no. They can’t decide for themselves whether they want this or not.

When I told my friends and family that I was running to raise money to support the fight to end FGM, everyone was so interested. They thought that it was an incredible cause to run for and wanted to learn more about the issues. I was surprised by how much of a response I got.

I was a bit nervous about running a marathon for the first time, but when I set up my Just Giving page I got so much support from my family and friends. They were so generous with their donations, and it was a great experience. Running the half marathon was amazing too!

For anyone thinking about fundraising or donating to FORWARD I would say “Just do it”. FORWARD does critical work in raising awareness. By fundraising, everyday people like me not only get to raise money, but it’s an opportunity to tell your friends and family about the issue, and that’s what needs to happen. Hopefully you might inspire them to fundraise, and then that domino effect can kick on.