The Girl Generation member Kolawole Adelekan, Adaku Chidinma and End FGM Ambassador Uzomba Chiamaka were part of this high level meeting to eliminate FGM in Nigeria.
Together we gathered in Abuja: ministries, departments, agencies, civil society organisations, all united in their goal to eliminate FGM in Nigeria.
The National FGM Elimination Technical Committee plays an important strategic role – making sure we work together and act with purpose.
Dr. (Mrs.) Adebimpe Adebiyi, the Director of Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health is warm with her gratitude for the efforts made by all of us in the room – and others. She emphasises that the Ministry is committed to completely eliminating the practice and invites us all to join her in the quest.
I sit up, pleased, when she acknowledges The Girl Generation for our action and engagement of youth in the campaign.
We then hear from a representative of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Christopher Ugboko, who outlines the history of FGM in Nigeria – how long a road we have travelled and how far we have come. The story starts in 1994 with a resolution at the 47th World Health Assembly.
Other significant milestones include:
- the baseline survey on harmful traditional practices in 1998
- the development and launching of the National Policy on the elimination of FGM in 2002
- the review of 2002 national policy and launching of the 2013 – 2017 policy on the elimination of FGM
- the Federal Ministry of Health’s collaboration and partnership with Population Council, The Girl Generation and the United Nation Joint Programme between 2014 and 2015
- and finally, the development of guidelines for the operationalises of the medical aspect of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act which is currently ongoing.
We discuss the main challenges to complete elimination. We agree that the major resounding challenge for the FGM program in-country is inadequate coordination at the state and federal levels, as well as communication and coordination between these levels with partners and other relevant stakeholders.
Limited funding, little political will and technical capacity among staff of the Federal Ministry, who performs the role of the secretariat were also identified as issues.
But we are optimistic – the presence of a policy and plan of action on the elimination of FGM, as well as, the financial and technical assistance by international organisations are opportunities that can and are being harnessed to drive the abandonment of female genital mutilation in Nigeria.
Another highlight of the meeting for me was the interactive session for effective strategies to engage more youths in the anti-FGM campaign. Our ideas included:
- anti-FGM clubs in secondary schools
- providing technical support to students to engage in FGM research
- using the national youth service platform to reach, orient and train youths
- diaspora engagement – establishing a link between activists/organisations in Nigeria and activists/organisations in the diaspora
- and strategic insertion in global conferences as speakers/abstract presenters to amplify efforts and impact being recorded in the country movement for the abandonment of FGM.
Very importantly also, we recruited about 10 organisations and they signed up as members of The Girl Generation.
I was joined by Nkiru Igbokwe of UNFPA and Otibho Obianwu of Population Council to outline our work plan for next year and get everyone’s feedback on areas for partnership working.
We left the meeting, tired after two days of strategising and co-creating, but enthusiastic for collaboration.
We have already started planning for the next meeting and we have already fixed one of the challenges identified earlier in the day – we will develop a list serve for the national FGM technical committee to facilitate communication.