THE STORY BEHIND THE CAMPAIGN
The Problem – The Need – Attention – Personal – Courage – Knowledge – Dream
2015 we had a huge challenge. Our revenue went down with 25% and we needed to reorganize. Some of our very important programmes were in danger to be closed. One of them was our work against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya, Sook.
We had made promises for the most vulnerable people and we didn’t want to break them. Very serious.
- there is more than 200 million girls and women whose genitals have been mutilized
- 3 million girls every year get mutilized, that makes 8000 girls a day
- FGM causes severe diseases and child and maternity mortality
- FGM takes girls out from school
- FGM is crime against humanity
- get attention to this global problem
- get funding to our anti FGM work
- start talking about mutilation, not circumsation
Our DREAM was to change the law in Finland to criminalize female genital mutilation
– no money, unknown issue
So, we didn’t have funding and we were facing many needs. Our motivation to win this challenge was very strong and we needed new ways . The Finnish people were not aware of mutilation and how common it is. So far the tries to communicate about it have not been successful. The topic is delicate and difficult. Also shameful.
We decided to be respectful and shameless.
Private Parts – Pelasta Pimppi – seis silpomiselle
That wording is used when talking with little girls. It is a practical and a pure word. Never seen used in fundraising or marketing. When we got the idea of using that word and started testing it around, it always created a strong reaction. Either judging or delighted. We were facing something big.
The message was so strong that not all our board members at that time accepted it, the board was confused but did not stop us from piloting.
We were nervous. This might fail small or succeed big. Most important was to do our outmost best to keep our promises. We took the risk.
International day against FGM is on the 6th of Feb. That is when we came out. We prepared us carefully, made Q&A’s, interviewed experts, studied material even more. Shared all the information we had internally and externally to prepare us for the coming.
Personal stories and faces
We needed some real people and stories for the campaign. We needed some common sense facts. Due to the fact that the topic is very personal and sensitive, it took some time to get the stories.
Issue is severe and global, but there is always a vulnerable, private person behind.
We managed to get all. Now we had a strong punch line, real stories and heavy facts.
we all have a relationship with the topic. We all have private parts. This makes it personal for the audience as well. Message will give a strong emotional effect.
Brave and straight forward
We decided to be brave and straight forward. Use real words and examples. We did not want to be ashamed or making things look prettier than they are. Nor uglier.
We we talked about mutilation, we gave simple, practical examples. How is it to give birth? How do you pee or what happens when you have your periods? What about you first sexual intercourse.
As we knew women that have been mutilized, we wanted to treat the matter respectfully. FGM is not done to harm the girls, it is for their best in that culture. FGM is not a religious act. In cultures where all the girls have been mutilised, there is no experience for better.
We decided in the beginning that we welcome everyone to join. We need the whole world to fix this. We will talk with everyone, the pros, the ones against. It is ok to get criticism, and we got that. Not all the NGO’s liked our approach.
A million people reached
Finland’s population is 5,5 million. We reached one million of them in the first months. We were in TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, we were liked and shared in SOME tens of thousands of times.
We won a marketing prize in a influence marketing category, influencing through emotions and psychology
we continued with multi channel marketing and frequent fund raising.
Even if we don’t do domestic work, there was a dream to change things in Finland. Finland had not criminalized FGM as other Nordic countries have.
There is a way in Finland to make initiatives for the parliament. One needs to collect more than 50 000 names and the parliament will decide upon the matter. The NGO field in Finland was not unanimous and some even very strongly against our suggestion to make an initiative for a criminal law change.
We visited a business man who is very courageous with fixing social problems. He wanted to join the campaign and sign the plea as the first signee, I was the second one. That was also our way to get more attention, prevent hits from NGO field and simplifie the language.
Then the lobbing started. Many, many meetings. Meeting tens of parliament members, all the political parties. We attended seminars, groups, discussion forums. Talked with other organizations and municipalities and decision makers.
We had a meeting with Social and Health minister and managed to hold a closed door meeting with the religious leaders hosted by the Minister Saarikko.
Over 62 000 signatures
Mission completed. We needed another miracle though on the way, after a slow start we finally managed to collect the names in couple of weeks.
Some months of bureaucracy and finally in October 2020 the initiative was approved in the Finnish Parliament!!
We got our names written in the history books 🙂 . The work continues.