A Maasai woman in Chalinze, Tanzania makes a point during an anti-FGM rally in her community.
Dakar, 14 June 2012 — Last week was a milestone in the fight to end the horrific practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), which has left about 92 million girls and women maimed for life and each year, an estimated 3 million more.
Over 40 people from UNFPA and UNICEF met in Senegal to take stock of progress made to date at the country and global levels. They discussed plans to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C and to prepare for the upcoming external evaluation of the programme.
The event was the 5th Annual Strategic Review Meeting of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Saly from 11-13 June.
The 2011 annual report for the campaign to end FGM/C shows that the pace of abandonment of the unkind practice is speeding up. This is because of increased ownership, dynamism and initiative on the part of national governments and implementing partners. The campaign has also shown an influence on maternal and child health, education and child marriage, and the general wellbeing of women and girls.
The report shows that in 2011:
- 2,744 communities publicly declared their abandonment of FGM/C;
- Across the programme countries, 141 cases of violating national laws against FGM/C were prosecuted in court;
- 19,584 community education sessions took place;
- More than 3,485 articles and TV and radio programmes addressed the practice;
- Nearly 300 health facilities included FGM/C prevention in their antenatal and neonatal care;
- 4,107 religious leaders taught their followers that FGM/C is not sanctioned by Islam;
- Nearly 1,000 religious edicts were issued in support of the abandonment of the practice.
The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Accelerating the Abandonment of FGM/C 2008-2013 is the instrument that puts into operation the common holistic approach recognized by ten United Nations agencies in the 2008 Interagency Statement on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation and by the UN Secretary General in his 2009 Report on the Girl Child and corresponding Resolution.
For the first time since the launch of the progamme in 2008, the participants had the opportunity to discuss it with the Joint Programme Steering Committee members. These included the representative of Italy, Loredana Magni, Luxemburg representative Patrice Schmitz and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) representative Simon Narbeth, along with UNFPA and UNICEF Representatives in Senegal, Rose Gakuba and Giovana Barberis, respectively, and Giulia Vallese from UNFPA Resource Mobilization Branch, New York.
The participants discussed with the donors the progress made to date and the challenges and lessons learned in various areas. This included laws and policies against FGM/C, community commitment to the abandonment of FGM/C, communication and media involvement, the integration of FGM/C prevention and care in reproductive health services, and partnerships with religious and traditional leaders in countries.
The issue of funding, in particular, was highlighted. Nafissatou Diop, Coordinator of the Joint Programme, commended traditional donors for their permanent support but regretted the low interest in FGM/C from other donors. “We hope to get more financial support for the joint programme in order to cover more countries,” she said.
Loredana Magni called for more visibility for the joint programme in order to raise additional funding. “Donors want to see the results of where they put their money,” she added. It was for this reason that steering committee members visited some of the FGM/C programme sites in Northern Senegal on 14 and 15 June 2012.
The meeting was closed by the Senegalese Ministry of Women, Children and Female Entrepreneurship. Participating countries included Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
~ H. Koné, RCA and Aminata Toure Sagna, Media Consultant for the Joint Programme
UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on female genital mutilations/cutting: Accelerating Change, Annual report 2011, 52 pages
Programme conjoint UNFPA-UNICEF sur les mutilations génitales/excision : Accélérer le changement – Rapport Annuel 2011, 52 pages