Puntland takes stand against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

“An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM. In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.”(World Health Organization)

Two decades of civil war has contributed to the negligence of women’s right across the Somali region. Women continue to suffer from the tragedies of the war as well as from practices including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

However the government of Puntland enacted laws against Female Genital Mutilation, a development that has been welcomed by human rights activists across the world. To encourage these positive developments, Interpeace local partner, Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC) hosted a two-day conference with leading women’s right activists from across the region – Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya as well as from Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia.

The conference was organized by Puntland Ministry of Women Development and Family Affairs (MOWDAFA) and was held at PDRC’s Main Conference Hall in Garowe, Puntland. The conference focused on how best to turn policies into action and support the ending of FGM.

Over 150 women and concerned Somalis participated in the conference. They had traveled from across Puntland, Somaliland, and South-Central Somalia. Attendees also included the Somali diaspora from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

As a persistent activist for women’s right and family development, Mrs. Asha Gelle Dirie, Puntland’s Minister of MODAFA organized the conference. The Transitional Federal Government’s Minister of Women Development Mrs. Maryan Aweys, officially opened the conference.

Among the dignitaries who participated in the conference was the First Lady of Puntland’s president, H.E. Abdurahman Faroole Mrs. Amina Abib who is also a goodwill Ambassador of the FGM eradication campaign. In her opening speech Mrs. Amina Abib expressed her joy to attend a conference focused on bringing an end to Female Genital Mutilation. The conference emphasized the need for Somali women to join forces with each other to end this practice.

At the end of the conference, participants produced 9 proposals on how best to end Female Genital Mutilation across Puntland and the Horn of Africa.

Highlights from the conference included the need to consult with religious leaders, communicate the new laws to the regions, include the issue of FGM in the school curriculum, provide alternatives for those carrying out the practice and find options to assist those who suffered from Female Genital Mutilation.