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afrol News - December 9, 2008 After Egypt earlier this year legislated a ban against female genital mutilation (FGM), authorities are now spearheading works to fight FGM at an international level as well. First Lady Suzanne Mubarak next weekend will open a Cairo conference on the issue. The Egyptian National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) and the non-profit organisation No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) are re-launching the international campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) by convening a High-Level Regional Conference "For the elimination of female genital mutilation - the Cairo Declaration + 5", to be held in Cairo next weekend. The conference will be opened by Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak. Ms Mubarak already has stood out in the national fight against the harmful practice and she heads the technical committee of NCCM. She repeatedly has brought up FGM in national media to raise awareness. The conference was said to "bring together key international figures, First Ladies from the region, ministers, parliamentarians, representatives of UN agencies and civil society activists from 18 African countries affected by the practice who have played a key role in the battle for the eradication of FGM in recent years." The purpose of the meeting was said to be to facilitate greater and more cohesive political mobilisation to consolidate the commitments and most successful initiatives undertaken at the national and regional levels and transform them into a stable, coherent political strategy, shared by African and international partners, with the ultimate goal of the complete eradication of the practice of FGM in the near future. There has been encouraging progress towards this goal in recent years, with the adoption of specific legislation by many countries in which FGM is carried out and wide-ranging information and public awareness campaigns to put an end to the practice. In Egypt, for example, the awareness campaign conducted by the NCCM bore fruit on 10 June 2008, when the Cairo parliament adopted a law that punishes FGM as a criminal act. In addition, with the Protocol on the Rights of Women, adopted in Maputo by Member States of the African Union in 2003 and which entered into force on 25 November 2005, African states have adopted a binding instrument that covers a broad range of women's rights, and explicitly condemns FGM as a violation of fundamental human rights and urges African governments to adopt specific legislative measures that prohibit the practice. Five years after the "Cairo Declaration for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation," adopted during the International Conference on "Legal Tools for the Prevention of FGM", also organised by NPWJ and NCCM in Cairo on 21-23 June 2003, this high-level meeting "will provide an opportunity to share knowledge and experience accumulated at regional and national levels, in order to identify and consolidate the best strategies and legislative policies against FGM, increase the number of countries that ratify and implement to the Maputo Protocol and create the foundations of a real and strong international alliance to defeat FGM once and for all," according to the organisers. The Cairo conference is organised with the support of the Italian development cooperation agency, the World Bank and the involvement of UN agencies involved in the fight against FGM.

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