Mwalimu to grace UN anti-FGM event Tuesday

15Jul 2018
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
Mwalimu to grace UN anti-FGM event Tuesday

THE Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu is on Tuesday expected to officiate at a one-day event in the city to help mobilize awareness toward eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country.

THE Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu

The event is organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the European Union delegation in Tanzania, the High Commission of Canada and the government of Tanzania.

Other partners include East African Community (EAC) member states, the UK High Commission, the Embassy of Ireland, the Netherlands Embassy, the Police Force and selected human rights activists.

An internationally acclaimed film "In the Name of Your Daughter" will be screened, followed by a Question and Answer (Q&A) session with the audience.

"In the Name of Your Daughter" tells the story of some of the most courageous girls in the world, children in northern Tanzania risking their lives to defy a pre-determined destiny and follow their dreams. 

These girls, some as young as eight, are running away from their homes to escape FGM. It is the story of Rhobi Samwelly, a strong Tanzanian woman living in Serengeti who has dedicated her life to ending FGM in her community.

However, despite the efforts of Rhobi and many others, the continued practice of FGM has been highlighted as an area of concern in Tanzania by major human rights treaties to which Tanzania is a signatory. 

This life threatening practice remains a ritual in many communities, and of concern is that it is increasingly practiced on babies under the age of one.

EU Head of Delegation, Ambassador Roeland van de Geer, and Canadian High Commissioner Ian Myles, will give opening remarks at the event, while a keynote unveiling will be conducted by minister Mwalimu.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Mary Nzuki, who heads the Police Gender and Children Desk and on the frontline of the response to prevent FGM is also expected to make a contribution.

United Nations member states expect to eliminate FGM by 2030 within the framework of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Global agenda makes an explicit and universal commitment to end violence against women and children in all its forms as part of an integrated agenda for investing in the protection and empowerment of women and children.  

The national plan of action to end violence against women and children (NPA-VAWC) 2017/2018-2021/2022 specifically addresses FGM as a traditional practice that harms women and children.

Tanzania criminalised FGM in 1998, at which the FGM prevalence decreased from 18 per cent in 1996 to 15 percent in 2010 and to 10 per cent in 2016, UNFPA data indicates. 

Progress towards ending FGM is evident: Increasing numbers of girls are attending alternative rites of passage, and more cases are being reported to and investigated by the police as a result of awareness-raising and systematic training of police on FGM response and gender-based violence more broadly.

June 2018 global data from UNFPA, however, shows that population growth is jeopardizing progress made to date as the real number of girls at risk is growing.  

Overall the observed reductions in FGM are not sufficient to offset frequency on account of expected population growth. Ongoing efforts need to be accelerated to achieve meaningful impacts in eliminating this practice.

Elimination of FGM cannot and will not be achieved without a multi-stakeholder effort across a wide range of programmatic interventions.  Once the practice of FGM is ended in Tanzania, evidence from around the world indicates that it will never return. It will be a victory for the women and girls of Tanzania to keep, a UNFPA statement affirmed yesterday.

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