On March 22nd, 2018, MALA will host a panel discussion, “Towards Zero Tolerance: FGM in America.”
This discussion will be held as part of the 62nd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and will feature a testimonial from a survivor of FGM, followed by an expert discussion on how we can build networks of support and intervention, both at federal and community levels.
Kadidiatou (Kadi) Doumbia was born and raised in Bamako, Mali. Around the age of five, she was a victim of Female Genital Mutilation, a term which comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. She and 13 other women in her family are among the more than 200 million girls and women alive today who have been cut. Kadi now resides in Chicago, where she is an Illinois State Early Intervention Specialist. She is also the mother of two young women, both of whom she protected from the practice. Kadi has dedicated her life to raising awareness on FGM, and its devastating long-term consequences. While she has no memory of her cutting, “it is a psychological pain that stays with you forever, until you die.”
Susan Masling is a senior trial attorney with the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions section (HRSP) of the U.S. Department of Justice. She has been with HRSP since it was created in 2010, where she works on Female Genital Mutilation issues, among other human rights matters. She is one of the leaders of the U.S. government’s inter-agency task force on FGM/C and engages in frequent outreach regarding FGM/C state and federal laws in the U.S. Ms. Masling started work at DOJ in 1990 as a prosecutor with HRSP’s predecessor office, the Office of Special Investigations, investigating and prosecuting persons who aided Nazi persecution during World War II.
Andrea Bottner is founder of Bottner Strategies, LLC. She is an expert in women’s issues and has earned the respect and admiration of some of Washington D.C.’s most influential policy makers. Prior to creating Bottner Strategies, Bottner served at the U.S. Department of State as Director for the Office of International Women’s Issues. Prior to her work at the State Department, Bottner served at the U.S. Department of Justice as Principal Deputy Director and later as Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, where she managed a budget of $400 million and a large staff of attorneys, grant specialists, and policy experts. As a result of her experience, she spearheaded a $15 million Presidential Initiative that established victim assistance centers in 15 communities across the United States. Additionally, Bottner served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Republican National Committee Co-Chairman, specializing in the Committee’s national women’s outreach expansion strategy. She began her career on Capitol Hill, serving two members of the United States House of Representatives, focusing on criminal justice issues and social welfare policies.
Sadia Covert is the Founder and Director for UCARE. Ms. Covert is also an attorney and partner at Covert & Covert, LLP. She serves on the board of Unity Partnership which is a committee under the DuPage Police Chiefs Association that is dedicated to fostering healthy relationships between police and minority communities. As a state- certified instructor for law enforcement, she is the first female Muslim to develop a 4-hour state-certified curriculum on Islamic Cultural Awareness in the state of Illinois and trains numerous police stations on the subject. For her work in uniting communities, Ms. Covert was awarded the Barack Obama Presidential Service Award in 2016. Sadia Covert has been appointed as the Chair of the Women and Minorities Committee for DuPage County and publicly speaks on numerous topics relating to the legal system, hate crimes, and Islamic culture.
Please join us in this dialogue at the CSW and beyond, as we discuss the important next steps to supporting at-risk women and girls in our communities.