Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso – On 23 November 2013, AWEPA implemented, together with Burkina Faso’s National Assembly Committee on Employment and Social and Cultural Affairs (CEASC), a decentralised activity in Kongoussi, Bam Province, followed by a national parliamentary seminar in Ouagadougou on 25-26 November 2013. Both activities addressed female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Despite a law banning this traditional practice in Burkina Faso since 1996, it currently affects an estimated 76% of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49. Newly elected Committee members (as of December 2012) expressed their engagement to continue the fight started by their colleagues in collaboration with AWEPA since 2011.
Ten Committee members left Ouagadougou on 23 November to visit Kongoussi, where they received a warm welcome from the highest traditional, religious and political authorities there. The courtesy visits allowed parliamentarians to discuss FGM/C and as well as highlight the support of the authorities to achieve the common aim of ending the practice within a generation. Following the courtesy visits, the village gathered in their hundreds to hear from the parliamentarians, ask questions and receive critical information through song, speech, debates and a theatrical performance. Belgian Senator Hon. Els van Hoof, coordinator of AWEPA’s FGM/C programme, spoke about Europe and Africa’s common interest to put an end to this practice. Participants were pleased and honored by her presence in Koungoussi.
On 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, parliamentarians met in Ouagadougou to learn more about the actions of a wide range of actors currently fighting for the eradication of FGM/C in the country, as well as finilaze the action plan initially developed by their former colleagues in the Committee. The conference ended in the adoption of a parliamentary declaration which reaffirmed their engagement to collaborate with civil society as well as other organs of government, in particular the judiciary branch to enfoce the 1996 law.
The conference included testimony from one of the only obstetric surgeons in the world who tries te reverse the effects of the practice, with clients from throughout the sub-region as well as the United States and Europe. The clinical images he presented reinforced the message received while in the field. Men who were previously unaware of the details of their daughters’, nieces’ or neighbors’ suffering, expressed shock and the realization of the importance of their role as heads of the family in stopping the practice around them. Representatives of civil society presented their work and the challenges they face, demanding a closer collaboration with the government. UN Representatives presented details of the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme and retained parliamentarians’ request to be included in their deliberations and actions in the field.
The workshop concluded in a positive atmosphere. Participants showed renewed conviction of the importance of their role in this important fight. In the coming weeks AWEPA will work with the members of the Committee to finalize their action plan elaborated during the second day of the workshop. In addition, AWEPA hopes to implement an activity addressing the trans-border dimensions of FGM/C, considered essential for full abandonment of the practice in the sub-region.
RTB News Broadcast – 25 November 2013
RTB News Broadcast – 26 November 2013