Burkina Faso has a dynamic network of active members working to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country, with a number having observed a need for more anti-FGM initiatives to end the practice. Existing research shows that three in four girls and women of reproductive age have undergone FGM in Burkina Faso; with a prevalence rate of 75% among girls and women aged 15 to 49 years. To date, research has shown Burkina Faso to have one of the highest rates of FGM on the African continent.
It is exciting to see the number of youth organisations that are actively working in Burkina Faso to engage youth in dialogue and activism towards ending FGM. One such organisation is Jeunesse Unie pour l Eradication de l Excision au Burkina Faso (JEUNEE BF), a member of The Girl Generation and affiliated to the Global Youth Network. As a key end FGM stakeholder, JEUNEE/BF has made a significant contribution towards FGM abandonment in Burkina Faso, working with other like-minded organisations to bring about a reduction in the prevalence of FGM in the country.
As a youth-led organisation JEUNEE/BF was created to engage youth in an effort to end FGM. Convinced of the great change they can bring and believing in their responsibility as active citizens to help address FGM in their respective communities, the young people from many regions of Burkina Faso gathered in 2007 to create JEUNEE/BF, which was registered in June 2008. The association strongly believes that young people are the best agents of change since they are the parents and leaders of tomorrow, therefore the success of the fight against FGM depends on their active involvement. They are working to harmonise strategies and reinforce young people's capacity to intervene in the work to abandon the practice of FGM and all forms of violence against women and girls in Burkina Faso.
JEUNEE/BF believe that FGM isn’t just a women’s issue but everyone’s issue as it affects the entire society in Burkina Faso; therefore for FGM to be abandoned all areas of society must be engaged and educated to promote the rights of women and girls. JEUNEE/BF makes use of mass communication and outreach activities to reach all areas of society and is supported by its members who are primarily communications specialists, sociologists, and lawyers.
The association has a vibrant regional representation, which strengthens the reach of the movement to end FGM in Burkina Faso. JEUNEE/BF’s work is strengthened by the support of elected regional coordinators whose role is to produce and oversee anti-FGM activities at a provincial level; this work is complemented by youth clubs in several counties in Burkina Faso. The dynamism of JEUNEE/BF and its engagement with a cross-range of Burkina Faso society led to its election to the National Network of Associations and NGOs promoting the elimination of excision (RAOPE), where JEUNE/BF’s general coordinator leads on information and communication.
To date, the association has already carried out several exciting activities, some of the most significant being the organisation of three large regional caravans in five regions, and the publication of several statements in the press to denounce the practice of a FGM. JEUNE/BF maintains a dynamic and lasting partnership with the National Council for the Fight against the Practice of Excision (CNLPE), which is the national reference structure for the fight against FGM in Burkina Faso and with other organisations working in the field. JEUNE/BF’s credibility has been a direct result of their dynamism and youth-led activism, which has led to their recognition by the Minister of Social Affairs.
In addition, JEUNE/BF has facilitated:
- The organisation of twelve advocacy workshops in twelve municipalities, resulting in a signed commitment of 240 customary, religious, administrative and political leaders to abandon excision in their locality.
- The organisation of twelve "public animations" in twelve municipalities, which made it possible to sensitise more than 7,000 young people on the harmful effects of excision.
- The organisation of a community outreach session for families in gathering places that raised awareness and sensitised 4,100 people in 12 communes on the consequences of excision.