While at secondary school, I started volunteering with Integrate Bristol, an organisation that works with young people from other countries and cultures to help them integrate in the UK. Through them I became aware of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), which involves partial or total removal of the genitalia. I believe it is the most fundamental form of suppression of girls and women. Inequality infuriates me, so I knew I had to act.
In order to end FGM, we first need to make sure everyone knows about it. There is a ton of relevant information out there and numerous ways for anyone interested to read more about all of the contributing factors. Charities such as Daughters of Eve, Equality Now, Plan UK, Darf (in Scotland) and, of course, Integrate Bristol all have resources that can help too.
Once we are informed, then we can educate our peers. One of my frustrations in this area is that adults often underestimate young people's ability to deal with serious issues. They don't understand that it's OK for us to discuss this issue openly.
This is why I created a petition, which now boasts over 250,000 signatures. Education is crucial in raising awareness, and to be successful we need leadership from the top. I wanted Michael Gove, the UK education secretary, to see how vital it is to teach about the risks of FGM in schools, and it was a real victory when he agreed to write to every school in the UK about tackling FGM awareness. If schools are aware of their responsibilities in this area, then they have no choice but to act.
Emotional and health support for those who have been subjected to FGM is also very important. People should stop saying "they cut them because they love them"; it puts a burden on the shoulders of girls who then cannot speak up because of misguided guilt.
Ensuring FGM victims have a voice and support is vital. I want people to realise that if you campaign for an end to violence against girls and women you are contributing to gender equality, helping end FGM, and creating a better world for us all.
Everyone has a part to play to make this happen. What are you waiting for?
Here are five ways you can end FGM for good.