The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet said that It is an honor to be offered this opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the rights of African women and girls.
Female genital mutilation has wounded hundreds of millions of African women and girls over the generations: an estimated 200 million girls and women alive today are believed to have been subjected to this practice, and six of the seven countries, in which it is most frequently imposed, are on this continent.
In addition to the devastating impact on the girls and women involved, female genital mutilation has had serious costs for African societies.
Today, our colleagues at UNFPA and UNICEF estimate that some 50 million girls in Africa risk suffering genital mutilation before 2030. The African Union’s initiative to end the practise is profoundly commendable. Preventing female genital mutilation is literally life-saving.
He stated that African States have championed the struggle against female genital mutilation at national, regional and international levels. There are extraordinary examples of leaders – including many women leaders, such as the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Madame Sika Kaboré – who have brought about tremendous change in their countries.
Work within communities has shown that it is possible to successfully address the system of beliefs, which underpins the practice of female genital mutilation, including its false association with religious requirements or non-existent health benefits.
And in several cases, “we have seen a very rapid and very welcome decline in the practice. African women and girls have a right to freedom, equality and dignity”. They have a right to be protected, by law and custom, from this painful, often disabling and even lethal practice – whether it is carried out in traditional settings or in clinics. The eradication of female genital mutilation would help free half the population to fully participate in building sustainable development for their nations.
I commend the African leaders – including religious leaders and community and youth leaders, both women and men – who are leading this important and principled struggle. I also commend the African women human rights defenders who, with often very limited resources but determination and creativity, have helped make major strides towards eradication of female genital mutilation. It takes courage to challenge traditional stereotypes. This African Union campaign will boost their work and give it further impetus, helping communities across the continent press forward to achieve the Africa we aspire to in 2063.
Later this year, our Office will organize an expert workshop here in Addis Ababa to contribute to meeting some of the challenges we face. They include the need for more determined enforcement of legislation, extending also to the medical context: it should be absolutely clear that the mutilation of girls in a medical environment is not acceptable. We also need much deeper and more extensive efforts to shift social norms and the underlying attitudes, which promote female genital mutilation, reaching remote rural areas. Without such efforts, prohibiting female genital mutilation may just mean it goes underground, or moves to a neighboring country, instead of eradicating it.
“I welcome and commend the partnership established between the UN and the African Union in 2017 to enhance political commitment, strengthen accountability and to monitor the fulfilment of obligations on issues related to FGM. My Office is committed to doing everything we can to assist you in these endeavours” he added .
The African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs and the President of Burkina Faso Inaugurates the African Campaign on Ending FGM
Born Complete (Saleema)
Sudan Minister of Foreign Affairs Al Derderi Mohamed Ahmed while addressing the event thanked the President of Burkina Faso for accepting the role of champion for the AU continental Saleema Initiative to end FGM .
In the spirit of our Agenda for 2063, the Africa We Want, Sudan is pleased and proud to share with other member states an African innovation, a new way of doing things, that originated in our country and has now become a global best practice model. Sudan welcomes the request of the AU to adopt the Saleema framework for the continental initiative to end FGM. Saleema means complete.
In Sudan we say ‘she is born complete,(Saleema) so let her grow complete.’ Saleema Initiative was developed some ten years ago and has really changed the way our people engage with the issue of abandoning this negative practice. Several other countries have already adopted the Saleema framework and report positive experiences with it in their contexts. Saleema does not replace has been adopted the great work on FGM that is already underway in all our countries, but will add to this great work and help to accelerate it. Saleema engages the culture of the people positively.
It is very flexible and easily adapted to different cultures. “We have so many positive aspects to our African cultures; it is time to use our positive culture to help our people overcome negative heritage such as female genital cutting”. The right of girls and women to grow as they were born complete and unharmed, is one of our national priorities.” We are resolved to realize the promise we pledged to ourselves and our children. We look forward to seeing many positive results as countries across the continent join the AU Saleema-inspired initiative”.
It is worth noting that Saleema” Campaign was chosen as A Model for A new Continental Campaign of the African Union;The International Conference on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation by 2030 took place in Ouagadougou; Burkina Faso during the period of 22-26 October, 2018, which was attended by representatives from 33 countries – including 22 African countries, participants representing professionals from various sectors, activists, governments’ official and international organizations.
Kenya Commitment :
Health CS Sicily Kariuki during the launch of the African Union initiative on ending FGM in Addis Ababa said Kenya remains committed to Africa’s common goal of ending FGM, Health CS Sicily Kariuki has said.
The CS spoke on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday in Addis Ababa during the launch of the African Union Initiative on ending FGM. She said Kenya will continue to take relevant measures towards the total elimination of the harmful practice.
The initiative dubbed Saleema Initiative was launched by Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who is the African Champion on the elimination of FGM.
“We have also enhanced community involvement through capacity building targeting law enforcement officers and traditional Council of Elders,” the CS said.
Kariuki said the government is implementing various policies among them the National Policy on Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence, the National Policy on Human Rights and the National Policy for the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation.
“The involvement of elders in the fight against FGM has brought on board more men as champions of the rights of girls,” she said.
The CS highlighted that the practice has no medical benefit but instead contributes to health complications relating to maternal and infant health.
Kariuki said communities that practice FGM have poor maternal, child and infant health statistics and noted that the majority of women who have been “cut” required medical attention at some time in their lives for problems caused by the procedure.
“Investing in solutions that protect and fulfil girls’ sexual health and rights creates a ripple effect that benefits families and communities,” she said on behalf of the President.
The CS said female circumcision is also a precursor for child marriages, and to safeguard the rights of children in particular girls, Kenya launched the campaign to end child marriage in 2016.
For the health CS to engage in FGM none while the Country’s health sector is in dire need for change is total retardation. The Country’s health sector need to have standards updated against doctor malpractices & Healthcare performance standards. The numbers of misdiagnosis and horrible healthcare professionals relationships with patients need to be reviewed. There’re so many cases of rude healthcare professionals. Doctors hurriedly prescribing surgeries without diligent medical tests is killing far too many Kenyans.
Our healthcare sector is totally rotten . And this should include even private practice. Every encouraging and procedure with a healthcare professional need to be documented and subsequently reviewed for performance auditing.