Egypt launches National Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Strategy: UN Resident Coordinator speechJun 29, 2015
On this year’s National Anti-FGM Day, June 14th, Egypt launched its National FGM Abandonment Strategy.
The following is a statement by Ms. Anita Nirody, UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt, in commemoration of the day:
Your Excellency, Dr. Hala Youssef, Minister of State for Population,
Your Excellency Dr. Adel Adawy Minister of Health,
Ambassador James Moran, Head of EU Delegation to Egypt,
Representatives of UN Agencies, distinguished guests.
On behalf of the UN in Egypt, I am very pleased to be here to celebrate the National Anti-FGM Day.
We know that FGM cannot be justified on the grounds of religion or culture, that it is a clear violation of human rights, has a devastating and lasting physical, health and psychological impact on women and girls, and is a barrier to progress and development.
Globally some 125 million girls and women have undergone the procedure and up to 30 million girls under the age of 15 remain at risk. According to the 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), 92% of ever-married women age 15- 49 had been circumcised.
Though this high prevalence rate gives a very sobering picture, there are grounds for optimism. The 2014 DHS shows a decline in prevalence among circumcised girls between 15-17 from 74% in 2008 to 61% in 2014 – and a significant change in mothers’ attitudes, since from a total of 92% circumcised mothers only 35% of them intend to circumcise their daughters. These results show that our joint efforts are starting to yield fruitful results.
In addition to data and reports, no stories are more powerful, than when they are face to face. I have had the opportunity to visit anti-FGM projects in villages across governorates – most recently Nagaa ElHagaar village in Aswan – where I heard incredibly moving testimonials by women, men, girls and boys on combating FGM. I was struck by the openness of the discussions and the strong advocacy work taking place within communities.
With the launch National Strategy on FGM/C abandonment today we look forward to the needed measures and mechanisms to institutionalize the strategy in the relevant ministries to ensure its implementation.
In 2015, Egypt witnessed a new milestone in the fight against FGM when the first doctor to be convicted of FGM was sentenced. But clearly, more needs to done to ensure that more FGM cases are being reported and prosecuted The UN family with NPC and the Ministry of Health is working with the Prosecution office towards expanding awareness on the FGM penal code, and we hope that this will help the enforcement of the law.
With 82% percent of circumcisions performed by medical personnel, we call on all health workers to join forces in combating FGM and we are committed to support the Ministry of Health, and the Medical Syndicate to end the medicalization of FGM.
The new media awareness campaign “Enough FGM” that was launched last month with testimonials from people who were denouncing the FGM practice –shows a change in mindsets over the past 10 years. It will be important to see how such advocacy efforts can be sustained in the future.
We are also pleased with efforts in incorporating FGM Abandonment, Anti-Violence and family rights messages in Primary and Secondary School Curriculum in collaboration with Ministry of Education.
I would like to close by thanking our National Implementing partner, the Ministry of State for Population - National Population Council, Ministry of Health and all other national partners, and members of the UN family. I would also like to recognize the generous support provided by our international partners: the EU, Swedish SIDA, GIZ, the Embassy of the Netherlands, and the Department for International Development/UK, the Government of Norway, Spain and the generous contributions of other countries to the Joint Programme against FGM.