HACEY Host 3rd Annual EndFGM Conference To Advocate Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation
Leading Non-governmental organization, HACEY Health Initiative has hosted its 3rd annual end FGM conference themed: For Her Rights: Scaling Innovative Human Rights approaches in FGM Interventions.
This was hosted in commemoration of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation to highlight the need for a human rights perspective in developing innovative approaches to understanding and ending FGM.
The event brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including policy-makers, representatives from United Nations organizations, law enforcement agencies, media outlets, international non-governmental agencies, civil society organizations, and members of the EndFGM Alliance.
The Executive Director, Rhoda Robinson while giving her welcome address noted that more than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) every year, with rising cases of FGM being carried out on infants and girls under 15. With the looming population boom and loss of ground that advocacy efforts have suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this number may very well double within the next decade. With less than a decade to go to achieve the SGD 5 target of eliminating all harmful practices, including FGM, there is an unarguable need to accelerate our efforts to end violence against women and girls.
She stated that “The event is in commemoration of the 2023 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and aimed at recognizing the success recorded in eradicating FGM from society and creating more awareness to do more to completely eradicate the harmful practice of FGM. In three years the conference has brought together dignitaries to discuss a stock-taking improvement of our interventions to ending FGM by 2030. This year’s conference brings together thought leaders to the platform as we look at progress towards achieving the 2030 target, bringing to the table the discussions on protecting the rights of women and girls to live free from violence as a fundamental right”.
“Since the beginning of the StopCut Project in 2020, HACEY has continually coordinated efforts among key stakeholders and actors in high incident communities across southwest Nigeria towards ending FGM, and promoting the awareness and implementation of laws that protect women and girls. As part of this effort, this annual conference brings together stakeholders to take stock of our progress and chart new ways to amplify our impact in ending FGM.”
Nigeria’s UN CEDAW Representative, Mme. Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia while delivering her keynote address stated that FGM is considered under the Child Right Convention, article 34 and the CEDAW Convention, article 5 as one of the gross violations of human rights, a demonstration of violence against women and a practice that needs to be eliminated. She stated that dealing with FGM requires a coordinated approach and commended HACEY Health Initiative for its proactive response in this area. She recommended the use of digital innovations to facilitate the reporting of FGM cases and to enhance the immediate response mechanism. She also emphasized the importance of feminist theologians joining forces in the campaign to end FGM, particularly in unpacking the issues surrounding the intersection of FGM, culture and religion.
Speaking as the first-panel moderator, TV comedian, Chioma Omeruah stated that more media efforts are needed to be geared towards the fight to eradicate the practice of FGM, considering the United Nations General Assembly 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, “we have less than a decade to end this harmful practice, let us spread the message wide and loud.” The panel session discussed ‘Harnessing the power of media to accelerate the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation’ and featured media experts like Associate Business Director, Noah Arks communications, Jumoke Akinleye; Advocacy Lead, WTHY Media, Fifehan Osikanlu and Filmmaker, Savvy Minaz Nigeria, Best Okoduwa.
The second-panel session featured gender experts, Director of 28tooMany, Ann-Marie Wilson; Board member of FOS Feminista, Rewan Youssif and Executive Director of GRIP, Barr. Rita Ilevbare discussing the “Pathway Forward: Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation by 2030. This session moderated by Dare Adaramoye emphasized that accountability structures are needed to measure our progress, evaluate our programs and ensure all stakeholders play their part in ending FGM.
The panellists recommended multi-country knowledge and learning-sharing session to enhance the efforts of organizations and advocates in ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). They also the development of interventions that address the secondary consequences of FGM, such as the increased risk of violence, health issues, and trauma. Additionally, they recommended using appropriate messaging when communicating about FGM and promoting the enforcement of laws and policies related to the practice.
The Osun State division of the Nigerian Police Force while delivering its goodwill message encouraged the public to report any case of FGM. They assured the public that their safety would be ensured after reporting and that any reported cases would be promptly addressed.
Oluwatomi Olunuga, Program Manager at HACEY closed the event by introducing the EndFGM alliance as a network of individuals and organizations working collaboratively together to achieve the shared goal of ending FGM by 2030. She noted that HACEY is committed to strengthening the capacity of the alliance members to design and implement effective and high-impact innovative interventions towards ending FGM.