In Tanzania, the Second International Conference on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has begun today, October 9th. This conference is an important event where people from different places talk about ways to stop FGM, a harmful practice affecting girls and women.
The African Union Commission, which is like a group that helps the African Union, organized this conference. Many delegates, which are like representatives, are either attending in person at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam or watching online.
Before the conference, Dr. Dorothy Onesphoro Gwajima, Tanzania’s minister for community development and gender, said Tanzania is ready to lead efforts to stop FGM not only in Tanzania but also in Africa and the world.
FGM is still common in some parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It involves hurting girls and women by removing part or all of their clitoris or labia minora, often in unclean conditions and without any pain relief. Some people do this to reduce a woman’s desire for sex and control her chastity.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 million girls and women have gone through FGM. It causes serious physical, psychological, and sexual problems and can even lead to death.
In Uganda and Tanzania, FGM is against the law, and people who do it or help with it can go to jail. In Uganda, the punishment can be up to 10 years, and for the worst cases, it’s life in prison.
Unfortunately, some communities still do FGM by going to nearby countries to avoid the laws. Groups that fight for rights have been asking governments to hurry up and stop FGM, with a goal to end it by 2030.
The conference in Dar es Salaam wants to talk about how to help girls and women reach their full potential. Its theme is “change in a generation.” This meeting is part of a bigger plan called “The Africa We Want.”
The first conference was in Burkina Faso in 2018 and led to a plan called the “Ouagadougou Call to Action on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.” It made the African Union work harder to end FGM. This second conference will continue that work, especially in Eastern Africa countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, to stop FGM across borders.
Governments and groups want to make sure that FGM doesn’t happen even in hospitals or clinics, which is called “medicalization,” and they will talk about that at the conference too.