About the project:
Photographer: Sam Faulkner
Nonprofit: Sini Sanuman
Agency: Mon Frere, Ltd.
Project Title: “Stop the Cut – Speaking Out Against Female Genital Mutilation”
Funded by a Getty Images Grant for Good, photographer Sam Faulkner and London-based creative agency Mon Frere traveled to Bamako, Mali to create an awareness campaign for Sini Sanuman, a local non-governmental organization that advocates against female genital mutilation (excision).
Ninety two percent of all women in Mali country have suffered female genital mutilation (FGM). This usually involves the surgical removal of all or part of the clitoris and sometimes other external parts of the woman’s sexual organ during childhood. The procedure can lead to death, infertility, infection and extreme pain during intercourse.
“We wanted a campaign that would speak to people using faces, colors and voices to prompt a debate about a practice with a destructive impact on people in Mali”, said Sicco Diemer of Mon Frere.
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world and even in the heaving Capital Bamako, there isn’t much inventive advertising. The Getty Grant for Good gave an opportunity to make a unique poster campaign that would have an impact across the city and filter out into the villages.
Photographer Sam Faulkner shot ten portraits of Malians, who by the nature of their professional expertise (medical and religious), popularity (famous musicians) or personal experience (young girl affected by excision) have the authority required to speak out in a convincing manner against FGM.
“It is obviously a big challenge to change a local belief which has persisted for centuries, without unnecessarily causing offence” said Thomas Phillips of Mon Frere. “It was paramount to use Malian vernacular to generate a persuasive message. Any hint of Western involvement could have been counter-productive. We appropriated colloquial language and local aesthetics to help disseminate the message”.
In nine days the team shot the portraits, interviewed all the subjects, created the campaign artwork, got 5000 posters printed and started putting them up around Bamako. Despite weeks of preparation, it was a tight deadline. “We were incredibly pleased to have been able to put some posters up with our own hands before having left Bamako”, said Greg, Sam’s assistant.
A local anonymous donor paid for four billboards to display the campaign at key intersections in the city. The posters have been used on placards for a rally against excision, which culminated in a conference at the Palais de Congres in Bamako, attended by leading anti-excision NGOs, members of Malian Ministry of Health and Women Rights and representatives from various international donor countries. The posters will continue to be spread across the country in the coming months.
“The Getty Grant for Good really can make a difference. It was a lot of hard work but the results are fantastic. Just seeing the reaction to the first posters was amazing. People were stopping in the street and started discussing them”, said Sam. “The only way to stop FGM is by changing attitudes, to do that we need to get people talking about it. Hopefully that is what our project will do”.
Watch the video of the campaign being made
About the photographer:
Sam Faulkner is a London based photographer specializing in reportage and CSR advertising. He has worked around the world for editorial and commercial clients from The Sunday Times Magazine, Vogue and Stern to the Body Shop, Nespresso and Dolce & Gabbana. He is represented by nb pictures.
About the agency:
Mon Frere is a creative studio founded in London in 2009. They research, write, design and art direct, looking for innovative positions across art, architecture and design. Project outcomes range from cultural strategies, programs and events, branding and identity, to all types of design work including exhibitions, magazines and books. All projects are characterized by an imaginative approach and critical cultural analysis.
Sini Sanuman works in Mali, West Africa, to convince parents not to have their daughters excised, and excisers to stop excising. They work person-to-person, through large public meetings, sometimes with whole villages and through the mass media.