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The International Conference on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), held in Nairobi from September 16 to 18, has been organized by Non Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Kenyan Government, in partnership with the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) and with the sponsorship of the European Commission, CIDA-GESP and Unicef together with the Italian Cooperation. After the Cairo Conference (21 – 23 June 2003), the Nairobi Conference was a fundamental step of the StopFGM campaign for the eradication of FGM and was aimed at developing a political, legal and social environment for the ratification and the implementation of the Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa”. The conference involved Governments and Parliaments of the East and West Africa Region (Kenya, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Djibouti, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso) as well as affected persons, former circumcisers, doctors, teachers, judges, representatives from all levels of government, parliamentarians and representatives of civil society, NGOs, cultural and religious community leaders, and students even from primary schools. The participation of local representatives from the rural areas was an integral aspect of the conference in order to maximize the effective spreading of the message throughout Kenya. All in all, more than 500 persons were involved in the Conference’ works, with parallel theatre performances by students on the issue, NGO’s stands and exhibition, After a three-days discussion, political and civil participants produced a Final Declaration where FGM are defined as a “violation of the rights of women and girls” and as an “assault on their human dignity”. The document underlines that FGM “has no basis in any religion but instead degrades the status of women and deprives women and girls of their basic human rights”. It also urged governments to ratify the Maputo Protocol, which is considered “the most important initiative for the abandonment of harmful practices. Ratification and effective implementation of the Protocol by all African countries and its rapid entry into force would be a considerable step forward not only for abandonment of FGM and the protection of women and girls at risk of undergoing the practice, but also for women’s rights and gender issues in general”. Concerning the ratification of the Maputo Protocol, not only Kenya, but also Tanzania, Mozambique, Senegal and Botswana had clearly expressed their intention to ratify the agreement. Governments of Djibouti and Mali formally invited NPWJ to jointly organize regional conference on this issue in Djibouti and in Mali, in the near future. This is a real achievement, as in both countries FGM had never been a priority for the government. Another positive outcome of the Conference is the nonviolent approach developed by Kenyan women in the struggle against FGM, which see many women and girls publicly affirm that they won’t have to undergo FGM no more. Local media as well as the international one, like BBC, CNN, Rai, Libération, Herald Tribune, La Stampa and others covered extensively the event.



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