FGM High Level Panel at the UN, Commission on the Status of Women 56

Fana Habteab, Khady Koita, past and present presidents of EuroNet FGM at the UN

The Coalition for a Worldwide Ban on FGM, lobbying the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution against this grievous violation of girls and women’s human rights, filled the chapel with more than 100 mainly African participants for its high level presentation in the United Nation’s Church Center last night, February 27, 2012. Speer-heading the campaign is No Peace without Justice, represented frequently by our author Khady and whose founder is Vice-President of the Italian Parliament Emma Bonino, in close association with the Inter-African Committee (IAC), La Palabre (Khady’s refuge for FGM victims in Thiès, Senegal) and the European Network FGM (which Tobe Levin of FORWARD-Germany currently serves as secretary). Joining them in support are the Cooperazione Italiana, EnelCuore Onlus, the Open Society Institute, and Vorwerk Folletto as well as twenty-three national affiliates of the IAC in Africa. Executive Director of UN Women Michelle Bachelet praised public ceremonies marking abandonment in thousands of villages where human rights education has been funded; but equally important, an unconscionable, overwhelming number of townships maintain the old traditions. Thus, given the urgency of action to spare girls from mutilation, the head of Benin’s Permanent Mission to the UN Monsieur Bertin Babadoudou revealed that a working group of African nations has been busy preparing to present the motion. The high level panel, whose keynote speaker was Burkina Faso’s First Lady Chantal Campaoré, featured several Ministers of African nations, all of whom agreed, a UN Resolution is necesssary but insufficient in putting an end to FGM once and for all. Changing oppressive patriarchal mind-sets, encouraged by funding for educational and media programs, remains essential together with, above all, political will to enforce governments’ accountability and end impunity for perpetrators of crimes against women.

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