To celebrate the “International Day of the Girl Child” on October 11, we at AWEPA would like to highlight our efforts to support local communities in West Africa to abandon Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C), a violation of the human rights of girls and women. According to the World Health Organisation, about 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM, including an estimated 101 million in Africa. A recent UNICEF report (July 2013) on this issue states that more than 125 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM/C in 29 countries in Africa and the Middles East, and 30 million girls are at risk of being cut within the next decade.
As awareness of the consequences of FGM/C spreads, women should become more active in campaigning for their rights. Endorsing this global movement, AWEPA advocates for greater awareness of this issue in both Africa and Europe, as FGM/C is not yet adequately addressed in African and in European parliaments. AWEPA works in close cooperation with African MPs to sensitise communities, and to legislate for and implement an accelerated abandonment of FGM/C. Simultaneously, AWEPA cooperates with European parliamentarians, to create laws that aim to put an end to the practice in Europe, and to keep the issue of FGM/C high on the European political agenda.
In 2013, AWEPA worked in partnership with UNFPA and UNICEF on their joint programme “Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change.” The following activities were implemented:
- International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting – February 6. As part of an international conference on Ending FGM/C in The Netherlands and abroad, AWEPA observed this day. The event was organised by Platform 6/2 and Pharos in Leiden, The Netherlands.
- Workshop in Saly (Dakar), Senegal – March 15-19. Senegalese MPs met in Saly in a workshop on the role of parliamentarians in the abandonment of female genital mutilation / cutting (FGM/C), followed by a sensitisation activity in the Kolda region.
- Parliamentary seminar on female empowerment in Parliaments and Parties in Africa in Vienna – July 11. AWEPA contributed to the seminar with a presentation on the role of parliamentarians in ending FGM/C. The AWEPA publication “Guidelines for Parliamentarians – Abandoning Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting” was unveiled and presented by National Council President Hon. Barbara Prammer (Austria).
- Awareness-raising workshop in Senegal – September 20. Thirty-five Parliamentarians representatives of the seven regions with highest prevalence of FGM/C (namely Sédhiou, Kolda, Tambacounda, Kédougou, Louga, Saint-Louis and Matam), participated in a workshop in Dakar to increase the role of parliamentarians in accelerating the abandonment of FGM/C. By the end of 2013, Senegalese parliamentarians will also participate in a number of decentralised activities in which they will assess the perception of the practice among their constituents, their level of knowledge about its legal and medical consequences, and finally the people’s expectations from the MPs to help end the practice.
- Ending Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting: A Progress Update in the UK – October 15. Closed door meeting at the UK House of Commons with Lynne Featherstone MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development and Dr. Jeff Balch, Director of Research and Evaluation of AWEPA.
- International Conference on FGM/C in Italy – October 21-25. Organised by UNFPA. The conference aims to shed light on the role of European and African parliamentarians in accelerating the abandonment of FGM/C. The conference aims to consolidate global political commitment, galvanise national action, and plan specific strategies to build a broad-based movement to end female genital mutilation/cutting and related discriminatory practices in the next generation, in accordance with 2012 GA Resolution 67/146 on Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations.
- Information and sensitisation workshop in Burkina Faso – November
Besides these activities, AWEPA has produced a book in cooperation with Pan-African Parliament (PAP) “Guidelines for Parliamentarians on the abandonment of FGM/C”. To read more about AWEPA’s work in this field, please click here.