Every year on the 16th of June, the world commemorates and celebrates the Day of the African Child. These celebrations present an opportunity for all of us to take stock of our efforts to protect the rights of children on the African continent, to consolidate these efforts and more importantly reflect on strategies through which we can address any obstacles for realising these rights.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is, "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity”.
For The Girl Generation, we embrace this theme as it resonates with our work. We believe that we cannot accelerate, protect, empower or offer equal opportunities to children in Africa, particularly girls, if we do not end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Globally, more than 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15 and is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
The Girl Generation believes that ending FGM is everyone’s responsibility. We are driven by the conviction that for FGM to end, there needs to be a positive transformation in the way that girls are valued, and in the beliefs and social norms that underpin FGM. We provide a global platform for galvanising, catalysing and amplifying the Africa-led movement to end FGM, building on what has already been achieved and working with grassroots organisations who are at the forefront of the campaign to end FGM. These organisations are often working in isolation and lack both a coordinating framework and much needed resources to do their work. It is for that reason we set up our end FGM grants programme, a flexible and rapid response funding mechanism for grassroots organisations. Our funding, though welcome, is limited and we cannot meet the demand for all those working to end FGM. Therefore, as we take stock on this day of the African child, we are calling on governments to not only harmonise national efforts, but to also allocate budgets for end FGM projects. By doing this, governments will create the necessary enabling environment to ensure sustainability of interventions. In so doing we will be taking a critical step towards accelerating the protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030.