Worldwide around 100 to 140 million women are suffering the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. In Africa it is estimated that more than 90 million girls from ten years of age and above have undergone FGM/C. Along with international migration, FGM/C has become an issue of increasing concern in Europe as well. To successfully promote the abandonment of FGM/C, legislation for repression and care must be accompanied by a strong effort of information, providing sensitisation and education within the communities where FGM/C is practiced. Awareness-raising must take place at all levels, from governments to elected officials, from local administrations to traditional chiefs and religious leaders, women and youth organisations as well as of course the communities concerned. It is also crucial to continue implementing support measures for victims and finding alternative employment opportunities for women whose main income depends on the practice. As for Europe, cultural relativism must be avoided at all times. The same standard (e.g. human rights) must by far apply to women with different cultural backgrounds as to European women. After a successful partnership in 2011, AWEPA cooperated again in 2012 with UNFPA and UNICEF towards the abandonment of FGM/C in the context of their joint programme Female Genital Mutilation:Accelerating Change.
The overall objective of AWEPA’s FGM/C programme is the abandonment of the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Africa and Europe within a generation. The purpose of the programme is to enhance the capacity of selected African parliaments – initially Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal – to exercise their oversight, representative and legislative functions with regard to the practices of FGM/C. The programme focusses on one hand on FGM/C legislation and the monitoring of its implementation, and on the other hand on education and sensitisation from a community-based approach.
- parliamentarians in Burkina Faso and Mali are more aware of the issue of FGM/C in general and the cross-border FGM/C issue between Burkina Faso and Mali specifically;
- parliamentarians in Burkina Faso are better equipped to contribute to the drafting of the law on violence against women, including FGM/C;
- sharing of experience and expertise between African and European parliamentarians has increased mutual understanding and political will for cooperation;