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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ethiopia: Parliamentarians Aim to Ignite Action Toward FGM Abandonment

August 31, 2009 Addis Ababba — Parliamentarians from Ethiopia and 7 African Countries last week completed a three day mission to set in motion a coordinated continental effort to shake off the deeply embedded Harmful Traditional Practice of Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting (FGM/C). The mission, hosted by Ethiopian members of the Pan African Parliamen Women's Caucus and in collaboration with the African Union,, was opened by Mufeerihat Kamil, Minister of Women's Affairs, the organizers said in a joint statement. "As Ethiopian members of the Pan African Parliamentarians Women's Caucus are hosting this conference because we feel it is time for us all to rapidly accelerate our achievements against this unacceptable violence against women." Anab Abdulkadir , Deputy Chairperson of PAP Women's Caucus and Member of Ethiopia Federal Parliament was quoted as having said. Data from the Ethiopia 2005 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) indicate that 74 per cent of women aged 15-49 have undergone some form of FGM/C. There are significant regional differences ranging from 27% (Gambela) and 29% (Tigray) to 92% (Afar) and 97% (Somali region). According to the DHS, There has been a 6% decline in prevalence of FGM/C from 80% to 74% between 2000 and 2005. Figures from a 1998 baseline and 2008 follow-up survey conducted by the National Association for Eradicating Traditional Harmful Practices (EGLDAM) estimates that the current prevalence rate is 56%. Given differences in methodology and sampling of the DHS and EGLDAM surveys, it is important to review the new DHS figures to verify actual rates of reduction. Data reveals that while there is significant decline in support for FGM/C, some may still be unable or unwilling to abandon it due to the complex set of beliefs and social constraints that surround the practice, the host partners said. "There are encouraging signs that the practice of FGM/C in Ethiopia is declining. We see this mission of the Pan-African Parliamentarian's Women Caucus as a major opportunity to mobilize efforts in Ethiopia and across Africa towards an intensified and coordinated affront on FGM/C to bring the fulfillment of the rights of girls and women into more immediate reality," the statement cited Fatima Hajiaig, Member of PAP from South Africa. As part of the mission, the 5 Parliamentarians from Ethiopia and 7 parliamentarians from other African countries received accounts of the pioneering work of Ethiopian NGOs - KMG and Rohi Wedu and observed the Community Dialogue process being supported across Ethiopia by the Ministry of Womens Affairs in collaboration with UNICEF, to break the cycle of FGM/C in Ethiopia. Powerful testimonials were shared by community members on their experiences related to FGM/C as well as the impact the intervention strategies have made on their lives. According to the organizers, the concrete outcome of the Mission was a set of 10 specific recommendations for review and adoption by the Pan-African Parliament to ensure a more active role of African Parliamentarian as champions and agents of change for FGM/C Abandonment both nationally and continentally. It was said that the Mission was the second to be undertaken by the Pan African Parliament's Women's Caucus since its establishment in October, 2008. The first was in Rwanda in November, 2008 where the members joined Rwandan women parliamentarians to cerebrate the victory of Rwanda in higher percentage of women in parliament and other key government decision-making structures. Support for the Mission was provided by the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), the Pan-African Parliament and UNICEF, Ethiopia in collaboration with the People's Representative of the Ethiopian Parliament.