Rome, Italy – AWEPA participated in the International Conference on Female Genital Mutilations/Cutting (FGM/C) which was organised by the Government of Italy, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the context of the Joint Programme on Accelerating Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.
The Conference was opened by Ms. Emma Bonino, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and AWEPA Member, who emphasised the importance of the outreach of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution, “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations” 67/146. This resolution provides a clear political call to action for continued acceleration of the abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting. Ms. Bonino further stressed the importance that additional resources to the Joint-Programme need to be made available as the UNGA Resolution calls for the international community to strongly support, including through increased financial resources, a second phase of the Joint Programme.
Opening remarks were also given by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. In his remarks he stated that political will is at the center of achieving zero tolerance to FGM. Policymakers and elected officials play an important and catalytic role in accelerating the abandonment of the practice by ensuring that FGM/C is at the top of the political agenda, according to Dr. Osotimehin.
The First Lady of Burkina Faso and Goodwill Ambassador of Inter-African Committee on Harmful Practices, Ms. Chantal Compaore, finished the opening session by informing the audience about the work she and her country had undertaken in the fight against FGM/C. She thanked the Government of Italy, UNFPA and UNICEF for organising this important Conference.
On behalf of AWEPA, Hon. Petra Bayr, MP from Austria, Head of the Austrian AWEPA section and AWEPA’s Senior Parliamentary Advisor of the FGM/C programme, gave a presentation during the Conference. She stated that parliamentarians could play a key role in the struggle against FGM/C. Hon. Bayr explained the audience about AWEPA, its FGM/C programme and the background of the programme. She also informed the participants about the activities implemented in the FGM/C programme and the results achieved so far, including the parliamentary guidelines produced.
Hon. Bayr stated that she was involved as an MP in the coalition discussions currently held and that it is important to pay attention to sexual and reproductive rights. She called upon the participants to meet their MPs who are representing them and discuss with them the issue on FGM/C. Parliamentarians can certainly make a difference in this struggle.
As a result of the conference, the “Moving Forward Statement for accelerating the elimination of FGM/C” was read by the First Lady of Burkina Faso and Ambassador Jostein Leiro from Norway.
Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Italy, October 22-25, 2013. Photo credit: Moreno Maggi