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Elisabeth-Norgall-Awardee 2014
Ursula Biermann

For inviolability and self-determination of women in Tanzania


This year’s recipient of the Norgall Award, Ursula Biermann, has been unrelentingly committed, due to her long-term stays in Africa, to fight against female circumcision and forced marriages in Tanzania, for many years.
Her efforts are also focussed on providing access to education for those young women who have fled from the cruel custom of genital mutilation. Although this ritual was legally prohibited in the East-African country in 1998, it is still an everyday practice among the Massai people. It marks the transition from childhood to adulthood and declares girls ready for marriage. But it causes great injuries to the health of the young women and some of them actually bleed to death.

In 2006, Ursula Biermann founded the association N.E.S.D.I in Freiburg for actively supporting NAFGEM (Network Against Female Genital Mutilation), a Tanzanian women’s organisation that is dedicated to educating women about the consequences of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in schools and villages. Information is spread by means of theatre groups and a film by Ursula Biermann. The women who were hitherto responsible for carrying out the circumcisions now have the opportunity to get retrained as officially recognized midwives, and recently the organisation offers local medical doctors training courses for reversing the consequences of FGM. Furthermore, Ursula Biermann has committed herself through the NAFGEM, to the building of a safe house for girls in the project region of Siminjiro. Especially in remote areas, the young women concerned have hardly any access at all to governmental structures for getting help.

The shelter is supposed to serve not only as a safe house but also as a schooling centre and for the acquisition of aptitudes and skills needed for life. Since the start of financial support of NAFGEM by Ursula Biermann and her association N.E.S.D.I., the women’s organisation was able to develop further and has become very well-known.
More importantly, one can now clearly sense changes in the attitude of the population.
Ursula Biermann’s dedication to strengthening young Tanzanian women for equal rights and self-determination has already borne much fruit.

Norgall Committee 2013/ 2014
1st Vice President Sylvia Rog (Chairperson), Bettina Harrer-Zschocke, Dorothée Kruft, Dr. Annemarie Moritz, Nena von Stein-Lausnitz and Dirkje Zondervan

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