From 2-3 December, 2016 the groundbreaking 'End Violence Against Girls: Summit on FGM/C' took place in Washington, DC. The passion, courage and commitment that surrounded the events were truly inspirational.
Across the globe more than 200 million women and girls are affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) -- more than half a million of them live in the United States. In 2015, the international community agreed on a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (Goal 5). An important target of that goal is to eliminate harmful practices such as FGM. We need to make sure the United States' global commitments are honored at home. It is absolutely vital that FGM is part of child protection systems. That's why it was an honor to support the first ever US summit focused on ending female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) alongside Safe Hands for Girls, the US End FGM/C Network and the United States Institute for Peace.
The summit brought together nearly 300 global partners from more than 20 countries -- survivors, activists, donors, healthcare professionals, educators, law enforcement, law makers, child protection, the World Bank and the United Nations -- all with the common goal of ending FGM/C worldwide by 2030. The event also included emotional selections from "Her Story, Uncut" (written and directed by Katie Cappiello) and a moving performance from the children of Vacances sans Exision Summer Camp.
If girls' hands or feet were cut off there'd be a bigger outcry…When you talk about FGM in the US people cringe. They don't want to talk about it. They want to think of it as a faraway issue. – Jaha Dukureh, anti-FGM activist
The inspirational Summit concluded a three-day series of events: the global Donor Working Group on FGM/C meeting; a pre-Summit activist meeting, which filled the room beyond capacity with passion and commitment from survivors and campaigners from around the world; a meeting for law enforcement from Africa, the UK and the US; a Summit Reception, which celebrated the many voices of arts and activism across the US, including the Faces of Defiance exhibition, and the powerful music of international musicians and FGM survivors, Sona Jobarteh and Inna Modja.
During the week, something special happened. Individuals who came to the events, left united as members of a global movement. Activists have been working around the world to end FGM for decades, but the potential to end FGM finally seems within reach. The voice of the vibrant and uncompromising youth movement was loud and clear – they will end FGM within a generation. Global leaders, including the UN Secretary General, Ambassadors across Africa, US and UK leadership, community and religious leaders, and male and female activists – openly joined the movement to end FGM by 2030.
We witnessed the beginning of new partnerships and collaborations; different groups coming together within communities; personal stories from across Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas, highlighting the global nature of FGM/C; men supporting their sisters in this movement; medical communities speaking to the urgent need to address women and girls affected by FGM/C; government leaders and Ambassadors committing to ending FGM/C by 2030; religious leaders and community leaders reaffirming that FGM/C is not a religious practice; a special message from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for states to prioritize the SDG target to eliminate FGM/C by 2030; and social media messages #togetherwecan #EndFGM by 2030 trending in Kenya and the US.
In the US, expert working groups on healthcare, education, immigration and law enforcement, had been meeting over the last several months to develop a “blueprint” for the US government and professional organizations to address FGM/C. The groups presented their top-line recommendations at the Summit, which will be released in a 2017 advocacy report from the Summit.
We came together around a common cause. Staying together to ensure we meet our goal to eliminate FGM by 2030 will require real commitment. Equality Now is committed!
WATCH the full Summit (starts at 18:05)