An in-depth study of the complexities involved in Female Genital Mutilation depends on research in various areas, of which Development Economics is central. Education, of course, is an especially central key to the problem, suggested by the fact that FGM is exceedingly rare among those with a college education.
I hope to be accepted to study toward the Ph.D. Degree in Development Economics at ____ University, based on being exceptionally qualified, and as a survivor of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). I have committed a huge portion of my life to human capacity development, contributing to an enhancement of our understanding of many of the economic complexities of the practice of FGM. It is also hoped that my ´first-hand´ experience will ultimately contribute to our scientific understanding of FGM in such a way as to better understand how to go about eradicating the practice - wherever it exists - most notably in my home continent of Africa where, most unfortunately, the practice is entrenched as a systemic element of many cultures. I also hope to be selected as a self-supporting student who has demonstrated that she is capable of academic excellence here in America, even though I was born and raised in a large, wretched slum in Liberia, West Africa. I believe that my background will enable me to make significant contributions as an African woman of humble origins to the diversity of the Ph.D. Program in Development Economics at ____ University.
Development Economics at ____ is my first choice among graduate programs for several reasons, for the university and the department. I see the academic culture and community at Stanford as characterized by intellectual fresh air and rigor - coupled with a thoroughgoing appreciation of global perspectives and humanitarian mission. Along with celebrating diversity, I adore the open-minded atmosphere that characterizes Stanford generally speaking, the cooperation, collaboration, support, and direction for students. I am drawn like a moth to the flame by the interdisciplinary character of your program in Development Economics, the opportunity to collaborate with cross-disciplinary research projects, and taking courses with top-notch professors in a variety of areas that will inspire and enable me to write an outstanding doctoral dissertation fully incorporating multidisciplinary perspectives.
I am especially drawn to Professor ____ as an inspirational role model. Her research in Development Economics, Inclusion, and Governance, her passion to identify tools and policies to help overcome challenges facing poor households in lower-income countries strongly correlates to the passion I have for service, demonstrated by my participation in human development and empowerment initiatives undertaken across Liberia through my not-for-profit efforts. Dr. ____ is the professor I see as the most ideally suited to guide me as an advisor. I very much admire her work, her comprehensive insight into the complexities of gender disparities, the “impacts and determinants of health in low-income countries,” and her sensitivity to and solidarity with victims of social injustice and especially gender-based violence.
To be blunt, I want very much to author a doctoral dissertation on the economic cost of female genital mutilation, in part, because I am a victim of this procedure. I was seven years old. Left alone, hurt, bleeding, and enraged; later, by the age of sixteen, I was diagnosed with ovulation disorder – produced by the FGM - and I was informed that I may never be able to have a child. Furthermore, I want to write my dissertation in the Department of Development Economics because FGM strangulates economic growth and development and economic value (money) influenced my father’s decision to take me out of school and send me to the Sandi bush when he was paid an additional US$49.00 on the bride price to have the procedure performed before I was sold to the old man who was the highest bidder. This kind of economic brutality is commonplace in African slums.
Now twenty-four, working to address this aspect of structural, systemic, gender injustice is the cause to which I hope to have the privilege of devoting my intellectual and professional life. I am driven to do so by the idea that my efforts might contribute to helping to reduce the number of girls on which this ‘procedure’ is performed in the future. I have decided that the best way for me to proceed toward this goal would be to study for the Ph.D. Degree in Development Economics at ____ University where I can enhance my research knowledge and learn to formulate national policies that will help to eradicate the practice in West Africa, boosting sustainable economic growth and development.
While doing a short program at the London School of Economics, I learned that the most accurate measurement of any civilization is how it uses its educational system to fight for the well-being of its most marginalized people. I became more fully aware of how extremely far we must go. I study my own country with a particular passion, Liberia, 14 years of civil war, the Ebola epidemic, and grinding poverty. Formulating tools and economic policies in such a harsh context is optimally done with first-hand experience, coupled with the proper training, to shed accurate light on impediments to development in the African slum.
A career diplomat based at the Liberian Embassy in ____, and a senior at ____ University finishing a Bachelor´s Degree with a major in Liberal Studies, I have focused my studies primarily in the areas of Economics and Public Policy. Quality education is the best, and in fact, the only way forward to deal successfully with the elimination or at least mitigation of FGM. I feel particularly inspired by the collaborative effort of ____ along with ____, and others on the Gender and the Dynamics of Economics Seminars.
I look forward to the unique capability of the faculty at ____ to guide me along the way, regarding the action that might be taken to ameliorate inequalities and foster sustainable economic growth and development in the Global South, thus also helping to address the issue of economics and FGM. My experience as a research analyst intern for the office of the former Vice President of the Republic of Liberia inspired me to work especially hard on formulating policy recommendations for our national legislature as part of the effort to ban FGM across Liberia. I especially enjoyed working with top medical researchers on the neurobiological and socioeconomic consequences of FGM. Heavily engaged with a variety of non-profit efforts and developing my organization, I have worked on several initiatives for economic development, victim empowerment, and against female cutting, early child marriages, teenage pregnancies, and teenage sex working.
It has been gratifying to help girls get the empowerment they rightly deserve. Last year, our team was able to send 50 victims to vocational training programs, and 38 other girls were trained from a cohort we launched to empower female students in public speaking, essay writing, campaign planning, and entrepreneurship. It is my hope that these girls can make significant economic differences in their communities.
I have been informed by some of the best doctors in my country that my chances of ever becoming a mother are very slim, because of the ovarian disorder produced by FMG. Thus, I fully anticipate that the battle to save the lives of other girls in Africa will be my child, or more accurately, the child that I shall never have because of FMG.