London, United Kingdom – A Parliamentary Meeting on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) was held on 7 May 2014 in the UK parliament. The meeting was organised by the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group, the Associate Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan, the All Party Parliamentary Group on FGM, and UNICEF UK. Lord Chidgey, AWEPA Governing Council Member, Head of AWEPA section in the UK, Vice-Chair of the Africa APPG and UNICEF UK Parliamentary Champion, hosted and chaired the event.
Keynote speakers at the meeting were Mr. Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative for Sudan and expert on FGM/C programming, Dr. Jeff Balch, AWEPA Director Research & Evaluation and Ms. Amira Azhari, Coordinator of the End FGM/C programme in Sudan. Mr. Cappelaere discussed the findings of UNICEF’s report on FGM/C and provided an overview of how programmatic work can address FGM/C. Whereas Ms. Azhari gave more information on the successful Salima campaign, underlining the meaning of the word Salima to convey the message that girls are born whole, healthy and intact.
AWEPA’s Director Dr. Balch spoke about how AWEPA expanded its programme on FGM/C in West Africa (Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali), in cooperation with UNICEF/UNFPA, and to the north and east (Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenia and Sudan), in cooperation with Plan International. AWEPA’s FGM/C Programme focuses on the crucial role of parliamentarians in reforming laws and policies, and holding governments accountable to enforce the laws. Moreover, AWEPA supports parliamentarians to participate in public hearings and abandonment declarations, as well as providing leadership and strengthening their political will. Dr. Balch underlined the importance of the active engagement of parliamentarians in the abandonment process, which will ultimately enhance the respect for parliaments, democracy and the rule of law.