Accra, Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has called for the condemnation and criminalisation of the harmful traditional practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on the African Continent.
She said FGM, which is a community practice in Africa and in Ghana, especially in the three regions of the north, with Pusiga not being an exception, was a canker that affected the development of women and productivity.
To this end, Madam Otiko Djaba advocated for integrated approaches such as the adoption and enforcement of appropriate laws for the prevention of FGM.
Speaking at the opening of a high level meeting on FGM as part of the week-long Regional African Union (AU) Ministerial Meeting on the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) in Accra on Wednesday, the Sector Minister linked the high rate of maternal mortality to FGM.
She said: Not ensuring that the practice is condemned and criminalised; not putting in place support services; and communities not being sensitied on FGM, its consequences and the abandoning of the practice; link FGM to maternal mortality.
The two-day meeting on FGM, among other things, aimed to enhance the understanding of ministers of health and gender on FGM and other harmful traditional practices within the broad framework of social development linking it to the key outcomes of AU’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals. It was opened by the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akuffo-Addo.
Madam Otiko Djaba lauded UNFPA and UNICEF for being at the forefront since 2008 towards the acceleration of the harmful practice through programmes and activities towards the eradication of FGM.
Madam Nafissatou J. Diop, the Senior Advisor and Coordinator of UNFPA, said the AU engagement to ban FGM started 20 years ago, however, because of migration the practice was still in existence in other African countries.
She said though national mechanisms had been developed over the years there was the need for conscious efforts to be put in place for FGM to be banned completely on the Continent as it denied women of their dignity and health.
The practices also affects the next generation as babies born of victims have a higher mortality rate compared to women who do not experience FGM, she said.
Mr Mabingue Ngom, the Regional Director of UNFPA, noted that more than three million girls were at risk of FGM every year.
He bemoaned the slow progress towards the fight of the canker and called for a global action towards the eradication of the harmful practice.
Dr Ebenezer Odame, the Director of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Health, expressed worry about how three million cases of FGM could be recorded every year.
He, therefore, called for education, acceleration and sensitisation among the custodians of culture towards the end of the practice.
Engagement with custodians of culture should be encouraged because when we leave them out the fight will not be whole, he said.
Mr Kaluwa Owen, the Country Director of the World Health Organisation, called for men and local leaders’ participation in the fight against FGM.
Source: Ghana News Agency