Amref Health Africa yesterday launched its vision to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030 during the ongoing Africa Health Agenda International Conference. The launch coincided with the International Women’s Day celebrations. The event, graced by H E Mrs Toyin Saraki and moderated by Dr Joachim Osur, discussed strategies for combating FGM, which is still rampant in many African counties.
Dr Githinji Gitahi emphasised Amref’s commitment to promoting community led and community driven cultural alternatives to FGM that enable young girls to continue with their education education uninterrupted. Dr Gitahi cited the success of the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP), which maintains all the cultural celebrations surrounding a girl’s transition to womanhood without the harmful cut. ARP has so far saved over 10,000 girls from the unsafe cut.
The Sustainable Development Goal, number 5, promotes gender equality and targets the elimination of all harmful practices such as child marriage and FGM by 2030.
The participants voiced the need to understand the cultural values perpetuating the FGM practice, which is robbing young girls the chance to live a normal life. There were calls to have more robust research to better understand what strategies work best in the fight against FGM.
Participants called for enhanced partnerships at the community level, especially those involving boys and men, in order to build a critical mass in addressing FGM issues.There was a strong consensus on the need to invest in education and sensitisation campaigns for capacity building.
The youth called upon the stakeholders to fully support implementation of the plan to save girls currently at risk of FGM. There was also a general consensus that legislation alone will not be effective in stopping the vice, but communities will need to spearhead the process.
Finally, it was proposed that former circumcisers be supported to undertake a different economic activity to ensure that they do not revert to their old ways.