The Inter-African Committee on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children (IAC) is an African regional umbrella body that has been working on policy programmes and actions to stop FGM in the African Region for the last 28 years. It was formed by African delegates to a seminar organised by a United Nations NGO Working Group on Traditional Practices based in Geneva, with the support of UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO and the Ministry of Health of Senegal. It was formed at a time when female genital mutilation was a highly controversial and a ‘sensitive’ issue for discussion and there was a critical need for an African regional voice in an international campaign against FGM.
The mission of IAC is an African Region free of female genital mutilation and gender related harmful practices. Its two main objectives are to:
- prevent and eliminate traditional practices that are harmful to or impede the health, human development and rights of women and girls and advocate for care for those who suffer the health consequences of harmful practices;
- promote and support those traditional practices that improve and contribute to the health, human development and rights of women and children.
The headquarters of IAC is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where it is registered as a non profit organisation and it has a liaison office in Geneva. The IAC has national chapters, referred to as national committees, in 29 African countries. The IAC links to African population groups in the diaspora through its many affiliates throughout the world (Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Japan).