United Front Against FGM: UNFPA, UNICEF, MoWHRD Call for Action

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Mogadishu: In a collaboration organized by the Federal Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development (MWHRD) alongside the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a gathering of distinguished stakeholders convened to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This momentous occasion was attended by senior representatives from the government, the diplomatic community, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United States Embassy in Somalia. 

The proceedings of the event were marked by poignant moments and impactful speeches that highlighted the urgency and commitment to eradicating FGM in Somalia - a nation bearing one of the highest prevalence rates of this deeply entrenched practice. Mr. Isak Hashi Jimale, the Director-General of the MWHRD, opened the proceedings with a resounding welcome, establishing the day as a dedicated effort to raise awareness and foster collaborative action. 

A solemn Minute of Silence paid tribute to the late H.E. Khadija Dirie, the esteemed Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, acknowledging her tireless dedication and commitment to improving the lives of Somali women and girls. 

Hon. Mrs. Amina Hassan, State Minister, and Acting MWHRD, delivered powerful opening remarks, emphasizing the ministry's long-standing efforts to eradicate harmful practices through legislative reform. "Truthfully, our efforts are not new. The Ministry of Women is involved in the laws that will eradicate the harmful practices that affect the quality of life of young girls," she stated. She called for increased awareness-raising and empowering campaigns like UNFPA’s ‘Dear Daughter’ campaign to support the fight for young girls' rights. 

UNFPA, UNICEF, and the US Embassy in Somalia issued a "Joint Declaration Against FGM" titled "A Call to Action for the Future of Somali Women and Girls" reaffirming their continued collective commitment to eradicating FGM in Somalia. 

In his remarks, Mr. Niyi Ojuolape, Country Representative of UNFPA, highlighted the stark reality that many Somali women and girls continue to face severe health impacts due to FGM. Emphasizing the urgent need for improved care, Mr. Ojuolape stated, "We must prioritize accessible, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive services for FGM survivors and building the capacity of health professionals." He reinforced UNFPA's resolute support, saying "We remain steadfast in our commitment to end FGM." 

Mr. Nejmudin Bilal, Representative of UNICEF Somalia, called on all stakeholders to "recommit ourselves to the cause of ending FGM and ensuring that every woman and girl in Somalia has a voice." In tribute to Somali girls, he pledged: "To the girls of Somalia you are the champions, we promise to amplify your voices and support your efforts, to create a future where every girl is free from the threat of FGM and other child rights violations.” 

Mr. Shane L Dixon, USA Chargé d'Affaire at the US Embassy in Mogadishu, commented on the significance of commemorating the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, asserting that "In a nation striving towards modern democracy, practices like FGM have no place." He commended "the UNFPA and UNICEF for their work to end FGM in line with SDG 5."

Ms. Sadia Mohamed, representing the MWHRD, launched the FGM and Child, Early, and Forced Marriage (CEFM) Coordination Forum. Positioned as a pivotal platform, the forum aims to foster collaboration, networking, and resource mobilization. It will advocate for comprehensive legislation and conduct education and awareness initiatives, all aimed at effectively combating FGM and CEFM across the country.

The event also featured the screening of the impactful UNFPA-produced short documentary titled "Breaking the Silence," amplifying the voices of FGM survivors. 

In a concluding Vote of Thanks and Closing Remarks, Hon. Ms. Sadia Samatar, First Speaker of the Parliament Federal Government of Somalia, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders, emphasizing the imperative of sustained efforts to end FGM and protect the rights of women and girls in Somalia.

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