Nelson Mandela

I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.- Nelson Mandela

AWEPA and Plan launch “Agents of Change Unite against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting” project

12-14 February

© Tobin Jones/ UN Multimedia

© Tobin Jones/ UN Multimedia

Nairobi, Kenya – In 2014, AWEPA is beginning a 4-year programme towards abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), to be implemented jointly with Plan Netherlands and Plan Country Offices in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. The objective of this programme is to promote the abandonment of FGM/C within one generation in selected communities in the countries mentioned. The programme is using a multi-layered approach, addressing FGM/C from three complementary levels: parliament, civil society organizations and community/households.

The programme is funded by the Government of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs under its Human Rights Fund, recognizing that FGM/C is a violation of human rights, an extreme form of violence against women, and reflects deep-rooted gender inequality wherever it is practiced.

On 12-14 February 2014, AWEPA participated in a planning workshop with staff from AWEPA, Plan Netherlands and Plan’s Country Offices for Kenya, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia in Nairobi, Kenya. The objectives of the workshop were:

  • to establish clear action points for 2014 within the objectives delineated for the programme as well as a timeline for the entire programme;
  • to determine reporting and budgetary guidelines in line with the donor requirements; and
  • to establish a working relationship among all colleagues, including attention to opportunities for regional events.
Group photo of the participants at the planning workshop

Group photo of participants at the planning workshop

AWEPA met with staff members from each of the Plan Country Offices to determine their particular needs for engagement with parliamentarians, given that each of these four countries present widely different contexts for work with government. Each Plan Country Office began a legislative and policy analysis to identify gaps in existing frameworks, and as a result identify entry points for working with AWEPA to strengthen parliamentary oversight of FGM/C legislation. In addition, an initial division of labour between Plan Country Offices and AWEPA was discussed, to be paired with the specific monitoring framework for the objectives relating to work with each National Assembly.

The planning workshop also coincided with the launch, on 13 February, of the programme in Kenya, which AWEPA participated at the Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi. The launch included inspiring remarks by Ms. Linah Kilimo, Chairperson of Kenya’s Anti-FGM board, and former MP who played a crucial role in the Kenian FGM Act of 2011; Hon. Cecile Mbarire, Chair of KEWOPA and the following Members of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA): Hon. Dennitah Ghati (MP for Migori County), Hon. Beatrice Nkatha (MP for Tharaka Nithi County) and Hon. Winnie Njuguna (MP for Kirinyaga County). In addition to hearing from Plan Kenya Country Director Carol Sherman, Ms. Marielle Geraedts, recently arrived deputy Ambassador of Netherlands to Kenya, reiterated the commitment of the Dutch Government to this issue and made clear her personal interest in this topic, requesting periodic updates. Dr. Jan Nico Scholten, founder and former Executive president of AWEPA, also took the podium, channeling the words of the late Nelson Mandela by saying that “so long as FGM exists, Africa cannot be free.” He was followed by Mr. Ronald Angerer, Plan Regional Director for the Africa’s East and Southern Region, who also underlined his support to the programme.

Ms. Linah Kilimo, Chairperson of Kenya’s Anti-FGM board Ms. Linah Kilimo, Chairperson of Kenya’s Anti-FGM board Hon. Cecile Mbarire, Chair of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) Hon. Cecile Mbarire, Chair of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) Hon. Dennitah Ghati, MP for Migori County Hon. Dennitah Ghati, MP for Migori County Hon. Beatrice Nkatha (MP for Tharaka Nithi County) Hon. Beatrice Nkatha, MP for Tharaka Nithi County

AWEPA also used this opportunity to begin the partnership with Kenya’s National Assembly within the context of the programme, specifically through Members of KEWOPA. Two KEWOPA Members briefly participated during the second day of the workshop where they expressed their needs and expectations from the project, as well as received feedback from Plan and AWEPA staff on how best to support each other in the coming four years towards achieving the same goal: total abandonment, in line with the letter of the 2011 law banning FGM/C as an extreme form of violation of women’s and children’s rights.

AWEPA also paid a courtesy visit to Hon. Justin B. N. Muturi, the Speaker of Kenya’s National Assembly, who promised his full support to the project, as well as to UNICEF/UNFPA’s focal person to discuss possible cooperation under the UN’s Joint Programme on FGM/C.