President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf left office in January with a tremendous, if overdue, parting gift for the girls of Liberia. During her final hours in office, Africa’s first woman elected head of state signed an executive order abolishing female genital cutting, an ancient practice that is endured by more than half of Liberia’s girls.
The fight is not quite over. Lawmakers have a year to enshrine the ban into law, and it may be many years before the law is properly enforced. But it is a momentous step that seemed unthinkable just six years ago, when an explosive newspaper article propelled the issue onto the national agenda.
No one thinks FGC ended in Liberia with one article, but what it did do was spark a vibrant national dialogue that boosted the work of anti-FGC campaigners.