First Lady Fights FGM

First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo with dignitaries after the opening ceremony

First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo has called for the intensification of the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) if the progress made is to be sustained and elimination achieved by 2030.

“We must intensify our education and outreach activities to ensure prevention. We must use all the legal avenues available in our laws. We must all work together to ensure no girl goes through this horrifying experience,” she said.

Mrs Akufo-Addo stated that the cutting or removal of some or all the external female genitalia is one of the terrible harmful practices suffered by girls as young as four weeks to 12 years.

She said the practice which has no benefit takes away the human rights and autonomy of females, robbing them of the right to make independent decisions in matters affecting their own bodies.

The first lady explained that FGM obstructs women’s right to health, “but ultimately in worst cases where girls bleed to death FGM deprives them of their right to life.”

She highlighted that it was time the country provided the needed leadership to fight the cancer; for citizens to act with a common purpose and for all to act with urgency since lives are at stake.

The first lady was speaking at the opening of a two-day international meeting on female genital mutilation as part of activities for the week-long campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) in Accra.

The week-long event which was held under the auspices of the African Union Commission brought together stakeholders in health, particularly maternal health, to discuss the challenges faced in addressing the issue of maternal health.

Nafissatou Diop, Senior Advisor, Coordinator at UNFPA, UNICEF, in her presentation pointed out three million girls are at risk of FGM yearly in 30 countries in Africa, Middle East and Asia.

She disclosed that although data shows a declining trend in the harmful practice in the region’s changes in population, where the younger generation is more than the older, projections show that more girls will be cut in the next 30 years.

Madam Diop also added that the new trend of FGM where the act is conducted by medical officers for financial or certain believes they holds is hindering the progress of the fight against FGM.

“Data shows that 30 percent of the girls cut are cut by midwives, we need to look at the medicalisation of FGM where doctors and nurses are taking the knives,” she said.

Madam Diop, thus, joined the call for accelerated effort by partners and all stakeholders to spread the dangers of the practice and the right of girls and women.

Mabingue Ngom, UNFPA Regional Director for Central and West Africa, in his remarks observed the sad situation where FGM is still practiced on the continent.

He said although progress has been made, it has been slow, thus, calling for all particularly governments to ensure measures are taken to end FGM by 2030.

“We must make sure that this movement is something that we will accelerate,” Mr Ngom mentioned.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri