Getty Images 2010 Grants For Good Winner Completes ‘Stop the Cut’ Project
We know imagery is powerful.
But when a photographer and communications agency work together to build a campaign for an issue they’re both passionate about, the results can be nothing short of remarkable.
This is the principle on which our Grants for Good program is built, and the reason why we are honored to announce the completion of Stop the Cut, a project undertaken by our 2010 Grants for Good winners Sam Faulkner and Mon Frere to support Sini Sanuman, a nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping female genital mutilation (FGM).
You can read more about the project on the Grants area of our website, but basically, the funding we provided allowed Faulkner (the photographer) and Mon Frere creative directors Thomas Phillips and Sicco Diemer the opportunity to travel to Bamako, Mali, to create an awareness poster campaign.
According to Sini Sanuman, 92 percent of all women in Mali have suffered female genital mutilation. This usually involves the surgical removal of all or part of the clitoris and sometimes other external parts of the woman’s sexual organ. 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 positive debate about a practice which has had a destructive impact on people in Mali,” Diemer said.
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world and even in the bustling capital Bamako, it lacks inventive advertising, Diemer said. The campaign was designed to feature colorful posters that would have an impact across the city and also filter out into the villages. Photographer Sam Faulkner shot 10 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.
Phillips said it was incredibly important to consider the big picture of the campaign – the messaging, the vehicles – not just so the campaign would be effective, but also well received by Malians.
“It’s obviously a big challenge to change a local belief which has persisted for centuries, without unnecessarily causing offence” Phillips said.
“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.”
Over the course of nine days, the team shot the portraits, interviewed all the subjects, created the campaign artwork, got 5,000 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 Hardes, Faulkner’s assistant, who has created a video of the campaign being made in Mali: http://vimeo.com/20074943.
A local donor paid for four billboards to display the campaign at key intersections in the city, and the posters also have been used on placards for a rally against excision which culminated in a conference at Bamako’s Palais de Congres, 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 Images Grant for Good really can make a difference,” Faulkner said. “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.
“The only way to stop FGM is by changing attitudes.”