Egypt: Recommendations from conference on FGM and early marriage

Egyptian Center for Women's Rights
On June 7-8, 2006, partners from 6 African countries and the UK met to prepare a plan to fight FGM and early marriage at the international conference on "FGM and Early Marriage from the Religious and Legal Perspectives."
The conference was attended by 130 public figures, legal professionals, politicians and Islamic and Christian religious authorities, NGOs, journalists, and activists from 21 countries.
Over a total of six sessions, the following topics were discussed:
  1. How to bring about legal amendments;
  2. What is Parliament's role;
  3. The relationship between poverty and FGM;
  4. The role of economic empowerment in combating FGM;
  5. Problems of the religious discourse and how to influence it;
  6. Mechanisms for eliminating FGM and challenges in the field.
Mechanisms for eliminating FGM challenges in the field
  1. Raising awareness on the dangers of FGM at the community level among both men and women rather than only among girls families;
  2. Training education and media professionals to disseminate knowledge as well as encouraging action from governmental ministries and professionals health, population and agriculture ministries;
  3. Introducing economic alternatives for circumcisers to help them refrain from it;
  4. Using real stories of girls highlighting success stories that could serve as a model to be followed;
  5. Involving youth in spreading awareness and organizing competitions for children including illustrations, posters and brochures;
  6. And benefiting from communication technology and developing websites with books and resources on FGM and early marriage that speaks out against these practices and their nature as social rather than religious traditions.
Legal mechanisms
  1. Working to pass a law incriminating FGM (or amending the penal code in those countries with no law);
  2. Training lawyers, judges and police officers on how to use international agreements and regional courts and using international agreements in advocacy campaigns to lobby parliaments to bring about legislative amendments on FGM;
  3. In addition to legislative work, it is necessary to organize parallel campaigns to address religious and cultural norms and taking part in regional conferences to exchange experiences and act together;
  4. Strengthening the role of civil society organizations in pursuing and reporting FGM practitioners;
  5. Launching an international campaign stop FGM and urging governments to take decisive positions;
  6. And taking action on international agreements and lobbying non-member states to ratify them.
Religious discourse and how to influence it
  1. Advocating for a statement signed by religious leaders and public figures and distributing it locally and regionally;
  2. Promoting partnership between official and religious institutions and civil society; and supporting the role of civil society organizations in enforcing the state's strategies to stopping FGM;
  3. Providing religious leaders with medical information on FGM's risks and convince them to "do no harm";
  4. Making best use of advocacy mechanisms to stop FGM with an emphasis on advocacy in the media and audiovisual media unifying the religious discourse;
  5. Strengthening dialog between religious leaders and increasing dialogue with Members of Parliament and relevant official institutions;
  6. Encouraging veteran scientists to write more about FGM;
  7. And distributing printed material in mosques and churches.