Regional leaders pledge to eradicate FGM in three years
Global leaders attending the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi yesterday made a commitment to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation, forced early marriages and Gender-Based Violence.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Danny Faure (Seychelles) and Mohamed Abdullahi of Somali promised to ensure girls were protected from early marriages and violence by creating more opportunities for them.
Uhuru assured of full realisation of sustainable development goals in line with ICPD programme action, which places human rights of individuals rather than numerical targets at the centre of global development agenda.
“FGM is a retrogressive practice whose continued existence assaults our individual and national consciousness. The practice is inimical to our shared fundamental values as enshrined in our Constitution,” Uhuru said.
The President said his government would increase budgetary allocation to sectors that guarantee advancement of the wellbeing of Kenyans.
Uhuru, Museveni, Danny Faure, Mohamed Abdullahi (Somali) and United Nations Population Fund Executive Director Natalia Kanem emphasised that ending harmful practices was critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
While Uhuru avoided the subject of sex education, his Seychelles and Ugandan counterparts committed to reviewing their education curriculum to incorporate sex education.
Uhuru said advancing women rights was the pathway to sustainable development.
“Empowering women empowers our societies and the world. We are here to rededicate the promises made in Cairo — achieve Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, and more.
“I would like to restate my personal commitment and that of the Government of Kenya to providing the leadership necessary to ensure that Female Genital Mutilation ends within this generation,” he said.
He said already efforts towards comprehensive intervention to eliminate the practice had started showing good results across the common borders with Kenya’s neighbours.
“In April, together with Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania and Ethiopia, Kenya signed a landmark declaration to address cross border FGM. Last week we also signed with religious leaders an agreement to wipe it out by 2022,” he said.
He added: “We can all commit to eliminate violence against women and girls. This is a gap in our development since 1994.”
Museveni, who is known for his strong stand against same-sex relationships, said Uganda would offer sex education but “will do this upholding our cultural values”.
“We are also committing to increase financial support to reproductive health,” he said.
The Ugandan President said changes must be accompanied by social-economic transformation of society.
“Gender inequality has been there but you won’t achieve change if the society does not change. If you do not create jobs, how can you ensure equality for women? They will be exploited. We must transform society by modernising it,” he added. “I agree that my daughters and granddaughters own their bodies. I am here as a veteran husband, father, grandfather and freedom fighter.”
Faure committed to ensure his government overhauled the education system to accommodate sex education.
Somalia’s Abdullahi said his government was working on strategies to combat violence against girls.
UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wondered why sexual and reproductive health and rights are controversial when it was so obvious they were essential for the health of all.
UNFPA Executive Director, Natalia Kanem said reproductive rights were not negotiable.
“We shall protect them,” she stated. “We have come a long way since the ICPD in living up to our global commitment to make sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights a reality for all. But we still have a long way to go before we can say that we have achieved that goal.”