Africa: Symposium for Religious Leaders on Female Genital Mutilation

The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC) will hold a 3-day symposium on female genital mutilation (FGM) for religious leaders in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from Tuesday September 25 to Thursday 27, 2007.
The symposium is a follow-up to a similar one organized in 2005 in Cairo and Ouagadougou for English-speaking and French-speaking countries respectively. Participants at the 2005 symposium came up with a Declaration and formed an African network of religious leaders to continue with the campaign to end FGM in their communities. Religious leaders are capable of playing a central role in influencing youths, women groups, excisers, legislators, the media and others in the community.
The objectives of the symposium is to assess the impact and build on the successes of the 2005 Cairo and Ouagadougou symposia; to enable participants share perspectives and experiences in their campaigns and to strengthen partnership between IAC and the African network of religious leaders.

The Abidjan symposium will draw about 30 religious leaders from English and French-speaking IAC focused countries in Africa.

Presentations by eminent scholars at the symposium will include background papers on various aspects of FGM, on relevant legal instruments to be followed by discussions.

The Inter-African Committee believes that to eliminate FGM, which is one form of violence against women and girls, there must a multi-dimensional approach that involves all stakeholders. As there are opinions and beliefs that FGM is sanctioned by religion, Muslims and Christian leaders would at the symposium expound how the practice has no place in both religions.

Symposium for Legislators

To date, only 9 out of the 28 countries with FGM prevalence have signed and ratified the Maputo Protocol. 16 countries have national legislation against FGM, many of which are incomplete. Thus, IAC wants to sensitize and train legislators on the importance of the ratification of the Maputo Protocol, as well as on the contents of national laws. Moreover, IAC wants to train them on how to implement and follow-up these laws.

Media workshop

During the workshop, Media will be trained in the importance of reporting on FGM, harmful traditional practices in general and Human Rights and how to bring this message across. Strong media messages can mobilize communities and pressurize governments, thus it is a strong tool to accelerate the elimination of FGM.