Khadija Gbla grew up caught between two definitions of what it means to be an “empowered woman.” While her Sierra Leonean mother thought that circumsizing her — and thus stifling her sexual urges — was the ultimate form of empowerment, her culture as a teenager in Australia told her that she deserved pleasure and that what happened to her was called “female genital mutilation.”
In a candid and funny talk, she shares what it was like to make her way in a “clitoris-centric society,” and how she works to make sure other women don’t have to figure this out.
Khadija Gbla was born in Sierra Leone, spent her youth in Gambia, and as a teenager put down roots in Australia. She uses her cross-cultural heritage to promote understanding in both directions. Khadija Gbla was just 3-years-old when the war broke out in her country, Sierra Leone. While her family initially escaped to Gambia, 10 years later they attained refugee status and resettled in Adelaide, Australia. The transition was complex—Khadija experienced racism, illness and depression—but threw herself into her education. She discovered that she had a unique talent: the ability to translate across two very different cultures.