Ways of ending the dangerous practice of female genital cutting that violates the fundamental human rights of 3 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East were discussed by African parliamentarians as well as religious and traditional leaders at a just-concluded seminar co-organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Dakar, Senegal.
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said Africa’s lawmakers have “enormous power” to help end the debilitating and sometimes deadly tradition. “It is essential that they take action to prohibit this harmful practice and other forms of gender violence,” she said.
While progress towards abandoning female genital mutilation has been painfully slow, experts are optimistic that, with adequate support from a broad range of institutions, including national parliaments, the practice can be eliminated within just one generation, UNICEF said.
The conference called, “Violence against Women, Abandoning Female Genital Mutilation: The Role of Parliaments,” was held from 4 to 5 December and was organized by UNICEF along with the National Assembly of Senegal and the African Parliamentary Union (APU) in cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).