Worldwide, an estimated 200 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and more than 3 million girls are at risk of being cut every year in Africa alone (UNICEF, 2016). According to the European Parliament, approximately 500,000 girls and women living in Europe have undergone FGM/C and another 180,000 are at risk each year.
AWEPA’s engagement with FGM/C dates back to 2009, when the decision was taken by the AWEPA Partnership Council to prioritise the abandonment of the practice. Since then, a large number of parliamentary activities have taken place.
The programme’s overall objective is to enhance the capacity of African parliaments to exercise their oversight, representative and legislative functions with regard to FGM/C. AWEPA is uniquely placed to support parliamentarians as key catalysts for ending this harmful practice. It has a wide network of parliamentarians both in Europe and Africa and partners with the United Nations, civil society organisations and other branches of government to abandon the practice of FGM/C.
AWEPA’s FGM/C programme aims to contribute to an increase in capacity among parliamentarians to legislate around the protection of women and girls from violence, including FGM/C, as well as to establish linkages with communities requiring support towards abandonment.
The objective of the AWEPA/Plan Nederland Programme, entitled ‘Obligation to Protect (O2P) Agents of Change unite against FGM/C’, is to promote the abandonment of FGM/C within one generation in selected communities in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. To achieve this, AWEPA works to enhance legislative and budgetary actions taken by MPs, as well as strengthening the capacity of the local government to influence behaviour change in target communities and to improve the implementation of existing laws through law enforcement mechanisms.
Type of activities and their impacts
The AWEPA FGM/C Programme Luxembourg
In June 2015, a successful outreach visit took place to the Senegalese regions of Sedhiou, Kolda and Ziguinchor, areas with high prevalence of FGM/C. The overall goal of the activity was to raise awareness at the community level about FGM/C in order to change perceptions of the practice and to ultimately reduce its prevalence. The method used was to sensitise and train local focal points from the Sedhiou, Kolda and Zinguichor areas on various aspects of FGM/C, including the medical and legal dimensions of the practice, as well as to present the strategy for abandonment developed by Senegalese parliamentarians and the local Task Force. This strategy avoids the standard ‘one size fits all’ approach and instead focuses on building participatory tailor-made strategies at the community level.
Another key event, which took place from 30 May to 1 June 2016, was the sub-regional conference on the cross-border dimensions of FGM/C. The Conference brought together some 35 participants, including Members of the National Assemblies of Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea-Bissau to discussed the legal framework, and political and cultural context surrounding FGM/C in their countries and hear from experts on the topic.
This fruitful conference concluded with the adoption of the final version of the Saly Declaration 2016, and AWEPA, COPA MGF/E and an MP from each of the countries present signed the Statutes for the creation of the International Committee of Parliamentarians against FGM/C.
The AWEPA/Plan Nederland FGM/C Programme
A National Seminar on FGM/C was organised in Nairobi, Kenya in June 2015. The Seminar was well attended with a gender-balanced participation and brought together 85 participants. The objective of this activity was to brief MPs about the context surrounding FGM/C in Kenya and the gaps in the 2011 Prohibition of FGM Act. Furthermore, the seminar aimed to present the O2P programme to these MPs and to identify champions and focal persons within the Kenya National Assembly with whom the O2P programme will interact to achieve its objectives.
As a result of the seminar, and in order to facilitate parliamentary action and messages on the issue of FGM/C, a parliamentary caucus on FGM/C was created at the end of the seminar. This caucus consists of MPs from the three committees present (the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee; the Health Affairs Committee and the Labour and Social Welfare Committee), among them members of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA), as well as a representative of the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ministry of Health, Plan International Kenya and AWEPA. The Caucus held its first meeting in October 2015.
Another key activity was the conference and outreach activities organised on 29 July-2 August 2016 in selected communities in Kenya. By bringing together parliamentarians, government officials, reformed practitioners, religious leaders, health officials, anti-FGM/C campaigners and community elders, the conference aimed to help the newly-established Parliamentary Anti-FGM Caucus to learn best practices, through interventions by local players and organisations.
The outreaches aimed to educate the different communities targeted on the harmful effects of FGM/C as well as raising awareness of the Kenyan Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, which outlaws the practice in Kenya.
Guidelines for parliamentarians – Abandoning Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
Summary UNICEF FGM report July 2013
End FGM European Campaign – news update December 2013
The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2013 (Information concerning FGM/C in Africa can be found on page 41. Report produced by the African Child Policy Forum)
Accelerating Change: 2012 Annual Report. UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting
|UNGA Resolution FGM Dec 2012|
- Video: Eminent Advisory Members Desmond Tutu and Graça Machel speak out against child marriage
- Video: No Time to Lose on Child Marriage and FGM/C
- A Fight as U.S. Girls Face Genital Cutting Abroad
- Schoolgirls sing out in the UK as part of a campaign to end FGM/C
- Video about child marriage by the Council on Foreign Relations
- European Institute for Gender Equality – additional resources
- United to END FGM (UEFGM) free e-learning tool
- Video: Dr Linah Kilimo talks about FGM in Kenya: ‘to end this culture we have to make everyone accountable’