Somalis to work together to end child marriage and female genital mutilation for girls and women
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
NAIROBI, 23 July 2014 – Government officials, private sector and civil society organizations from all three Somali regions are joining the global movement to end child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) and all forms of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) for all girls within a generation.
The pledge was made during the first Girl Summit 2014, co-hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom and UNICEF. The Summit, on July 22, in London brought together leaders from around the world, including government representatives, international organizations, the private sector and girls themselves to mobilize action to end these practices for girls and women everywhere.
At 98 per cent, Somalia has one of the world’s highest rates of FGM/C. To tackle issues like this, the Federal Government of Somalia has committed to the development of a policy on FGM and CEFM in line with its 2012 Constitution, which guarantees the rights of every child to be protected from all forms of harm, degradation or abuse.
“We are committed to ending these harmful practices soon,” said Dr Ahmed Adan Ahmed, acting Minister of Health for the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). “We have committed to a National Plan of Action to reduce these harmful practices - first by 50 per cent as soon as possible. These harmful practices can be stopped and it is a top priority for us.”
In addition to Dr Ahmed, the Somali delegation consists of the First Lady of Somaliland, Amina Weris; and Anisa Hajimumin, Minister of Women, Development and Family Affairs, Puntland. Representatives from Somali civil society are also attending the Summit.
“FGM/C is practiced in Puntland and the number of cases are still high despite our efforts to raise awareness on this gruesome procedure,” said Ms Hajimumin. “To end this practice, all stakeholders should help implement the FGM/C policy signed by the President in March 2014, including parliamentarians, religious leaders, communities and reformed circumcisors and our partners. It has to be a concerted effort by all. You can all count on the support and collaboration of the Puntland Government in the fight against FGM/C and early marriage”, she added.
The First Lady of Somaliland, Amina Weris, underscored the importance of legislation to protect girls and women. "We are committed to zero tolerance of both FGM/C and CEFM. We are calling for legislation against them and the President will not rest until a law is passed. We need also to make sure that any health practitioners carrying out FGM/C are penalised and sanctioned”, she said.
The Girl Summit 2014 provides an opportunity to help strengthen and expand work in approximately 15-20 high prevalence and high burden countries, where the potential for change is also the most promising. It seeks to strengthen support to the regional and continental efforts such as the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage, and share success stories from around the world, including the stories from the girls and women who have experienced FGM or child marriage and are now driving change so others do not have to live through it.
“Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination, and achieve their potential. We need to work together, stepping up our efforts and that of our partners to end FGM and CEFM forever,” said Phil Evans, Head of UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Somalia.
“Enhancing the role of young people in reaching out to all their peers to end these practices will make a great difference,” said UNFPA Somalia Representative, Cheikh Tidiane Cisse.
“The fact that almost all girls and young women are forced to undergo FGM/C in Somalia is completely unacceptable. Such practices, including child, early and forced marriage, expose girls and women to many health risks and long term psychological effects,” said UNICEF Somalia Representative, Sikander Khan. “The Somali authorities, supported by UNICEF and UNFPA, are working to combat this, but far more needs to be done.”
Following the Summit, Somaliland, Puntland and the FGS are set to sign an agreement to officially commit themselves to working together to stop CEFM and FGM/C in Somalia.
For more information, contact:
UNICEF Somalia: Bismarck Swangin. Tel: 072206883 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UKaid Kenya/Somalia: Stephen Burns. Tel: 0722 203896 Email: Stephen.Burns@fco.gov.uk
UNFPA Somalia: Cheikh Tidiane Cisse. Email: email@example.com