Gender is My Agenda – is it yours?

2 August 2017

Our End FGM Ambassador Peter attended the Gender is My Agenda (GIMAC) summit  at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, playing his part in ensuring that ending FGM was front and centre of the discussion. 

Every year at the African Union, heads of state and their respective ministers meet twice to deliberate on key issues that affect the African continent. One of those pre-summit meetings is GIMAC - the Gender is My Agenda Campaign - bringing together over 50 organisations that focus on women's empowerment.

I was privileged to be part of the planning committee through the Young Women Christian Association where I work, and together with other partners like FAWE and Rosaria Trust Fund from Zimbabwe. I took this chance as an end FGM ambassador to articulate the need for this year’s session to highlight FGM, as well as further contribute to the statement  presented to the ministers and heads of state.

Over 200 Million women and girls alive have undergone FGM. FGM is most prevalent in 28 countries in Africa and the majority of girls are cut by traditional practitioners. Medicalised FGM has continued to increase in many countries.  These statistics from UNICEF informed our panel that consisted of Mary Wandia, Esmael Omar from The Girl Generation,  and Radhia Malla, a youth champion from Tanzania. Our topic for the dialogue was investing in youth to end FGM.

During this panel, I shared my experience as a Kenyan case study of how men and young people are involved in fighting FGM. Since being nominated as an end FGM ambassador, I have managed to participate and engage different people in the communities and decision makers. One important lesson is from Morans who are beginning to change their mindset and opt towards fighting FGM by agreeing to marry uncut girls. Young girl survivors in Kuria have also started to come out and sharing their pain and struggles of going through FGM. The brave and radical steps taken by these individuals pave the way for discussion and change to come.

I also indicated the need to have more resources channeled towards empowering girls to end FGM in Africa. Our session generated a lot of interest and it was rightly put by the AU Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage Ms Nyaradzyi, “Child marriage and FGM have a link and it is high time the donor community start funding these issues as one.”

Another highlight for me was when I met with the AU Goodwill Ambassador for Peace Madam Diop, and she was more than happy to see a ‘He for She’ in the planning committee. She also expressed the need for The Girl Generation to start documenting good practices for ending FGM in order for countries and activists to learn and share.

At the end of the Summit our recommendations were included as part of the statement presented to the Ministers for Gender. I also attended a youth event that brought together all the young people who attended the pre-summit meeting. As YWCA Kenya, we supported eight young people to attend GIMAC who were trained on advocacy skills and prepared to participate in the conference. 

During the gender ministers meeting, the youth statement was read and adopted by the ministers for action. I had a chance to meet with Kenyan representative Dr Wanjiru who is Head of Gender at the Ministry of Public Affairs. We agreed on the importance of continuing the conversation back home and how we involve more youth and civil society organisations in decisions about policy changes.

The GIMAC meeting created an avenue for me as an end FGM ambassador to continue contributing towards the next pre-summit meeting in January 2018 and to make sure that FGM is part of the agenda. This will help increase momentum to fight the practice and to grow the global movement towards ending FGM in this generation. Thank you to The Girl Generation for the support given to me during the GIMAC and gender ministers meeting.

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