Long-term solutions to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are essential to ensure progress towards ending harmful practices, says Christian Aid.
Better opportunities for girls and women, supporting survivors and protecting girls at risk were among the key areas to be addressed at the Girl Summit today (Tuesday), hosted by the UK Prime Minister and jointly organised by the Department for International Development (DfID) and UNICEF.
“We welcome the Summit and DfID’s ambition to tackle these issues and the recognition of the key role of faith-based and civil society organisations in the fight against both practices,” said Chiara Capraro, Christian Aid’s Policy Advisor on Gender.
“We want to remind political and faith leaders that this commendable ambition needs long-term commitment and investment to address the damaging social and cultural norms that reinforce these practices. Working with communities, education and engaging with religious and traditional leaders is essential.”
Christian Aid wants to see the ending of FGM and child, early and forced marriage included in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set to replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015.
Christian Aid therefore welcomes the inclusion of a target on harmful practices within the recently agreed report from the UN’s Open Working Group on SDGs, and urges world leaders to take this forward as part of a specific stand-alone goal addressing the rights of women and girls.
Such a move could be a significant step forward in enhancing deepening global commitment to gender equality.
Approximately 140 million girls and women are currently living with the consequences of FGM globally, of whom 92 million live in Africa. Worldwide, more than 60 million girls are child brides, forced into marriage before the age of 18.
Ms Capraro added: “Christian Aid works with partner organisations around the world to address the rights of women and girls, as well as harmful practices including FGM and child early and forced marriages. To coincide with this Summit, Christian Aid has launched a new strategy, Gender Justice for All, to share its own commitment to long-term change and gender equality.”