been condoned in varying degrees in many countries of the world. The years gone by
have registered concerted attempts to bring to the fore the evils associated with the
practice with some tremendous success and efforts to eradicate the practice has been
ongoing. International instruments, legislation and conventions have been passed and
signed by various countries as a way forward in bringing FGM and other Harmful
Traditional Practices (HTPs) to world attention as a form of discrimination and act of
violence against women and girls. At the same time, various strategies have been
adopted by lAC, and its national committees and affiliates aimed at sensitizing the
populace at the national, regional and international levels on the need to eliminate the
. practice of FGM. Conformable efforts have also been made by other NGOs and
stakeholders to complement the work of lAC but despite these bold and courageous
steps, millions of women and girls still continue to endure negative traditional practices
with more who still stand at risk of being mutilated.
In recognition of the magnitude of the problem, lAC has been at the forefront in the
. fight to eradicate FGMjHTPs and promote beneficial ones. It has through research
studies, consultations, and collaboration with several stakeholders evolved multifaceted
approaches and strategies aimed at ameliorating the lives of women and girls by
advocating for the elimination of FGMjHTPs. While considerable effort was being
expended at the national and regional levels to tackle FGM, migrants of African origin
had gone ahead to introduce FGM in their host European countries. This magnified the
scope of the fight and raised to an unprecedented level global concern for the
elimination of FGM.
International focus on the problem of FGM engendered collaboration with relevant
organizations such as the NGO Commission on the Status of Women, which has served
as the pivot for NGO Working Group on Traditional-Practices since 1977. The effort of
this group paved way for the inclusion of FGM in the agenda of the UN Working Group
on Slavery and Slavery-like Practices. In line with this, FGM was endorsed as gross
violation of the reproductive and human rights of women and girl-children and efforts
has since been made to eliminate the practice. The consequences of FGM are not just
harmful but grave. Thus, world attention was turned to FGM and confluent steps were
taken to address the problem with a view to finding ways of eliminating the practice. It
brought in its wake conferences, seminars, symposia and workshops at the national,
regional and international levels. Lobbying, advocacy and collaboration played
significant roles in bringing into world focus the gravity of the problem of FGM.
In the same vein, countries have taken active part in instituting legislation against the
practice of FGM. The African Union in furtherance of its mandate has put forward the
African Charter on Human and People's Right to strengthen the resolve to eradicate all
forms of harmful traditional practices. The need to harness these successes into one
hard-hitting approach informed the judgement of lAC to put together the International
Conference on ZeroTolerance to FGM.
Based on the laudable vision of making the world a safer place for women and girls to
take responsibility for the protection of the body, lAC considered that it was right to
raise the level of the fight by joining all efforts to free women and girls shackled by
tradition. The International Conference on Zero Tolerance to FGM was designed as a
new initiative aimed at taking the fight for the eradication of FGM to a new height. It
doubled as a melting pot for the sharing of experiences, updating priorities and finding
a common course in a more co-ordinated manner for accelerating the eradication of
FGM. The initiative of finding an African solution to an inherently African problem
provided the necessary step needed to engage and win the support of the international
community in caging a ravaging problem, which Inescapably had global links.
lAC sees the clarion call for eradication of FGM as one that thrives under the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. It holds in high esteem the process of collaboration as
invaluable in achieving collective ownership of a solution to the problem of FGM. Itbelieves that joint actions are needed to ensure sustalnabillty in the eradication of FGM.
Therefore, the Common Agenda for Action on Zero Tolerance to FGM adopted at the
conference remains an important document to be implemented. It formed the basis for
the appeal to African Heads of States and Governments to adopt Zero Tolerance to FGM
and laid the foundation for Iiasing with top African personalities to join in the fight to
eradicate this gruesome traditional practice.
NGOs, UN agencies, governments, Human rights groups and various stakeholders are
considered vital partners of lAC in promoting the ideals expressed in the document,
enhancing co-operation and facilitating compliance. lAC intends to consolidate on the
gains made by strengthening collaboration and mutually reinforcing joint effortsnecessary for fUlfilling the onerous task.
The declaration of February 6 as the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM marks
a milestone in the fight to eliminate FGM and takes us closer to our destination. It is a
positive step based on commitment that is expected to bring us closer to the end of
FGM and the breaking of a new dawn of inalienable right for women and girls as our
tradition and culture take their rightful place.