End FGM EU Hosts 'European Forum to Build Bridges on FGM' in Brussels

The European Forum to Build Bridges on FGM was held on 28 November in Brussels by the End FGM EU in cooperation with the European Commission, and with the support of the Human Dignity Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund.

The Forum gave the opportunity to more than 100 actors working to end FGM - including NGOs, IGOs, service providers, practitioners, donors, researchers, experts, lawyers, academics, civil servants, activists, survivors and community representatives worldwide (Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, US) to share experiences, exchange good practices and discuss future trends.The aim of such Forum was to give a platform to all actors involved in working to end FGM worldwide to explore how to build bridges and strengthen cooperation between different regions of the world, between different sectors and how to foster actions that address various forms of VAWG through a holistic approach.

The outcome of the Forum was a set of conclusions and recommendations having the added value of being formulated by a multi-stakeholder audience coming from different parts of the world. Such preliminary document was presented directly to the FGM Donors Working Group that had its 2017 annual meeting in Brussels right after the Forum. This intended proximity brought another added value to the Forum itself, since it gave the opportunity to all participants to interact face to face with donors and express to them their concerns and share suggestions.

Some of the main recommendations to arise from the Forum was to create stronger partnerships at all levels and join efforts into a more effective international and inter-regional cooperation. This also means promoting the abandonment of FGM through a more coordinated and comprehensive approach, which includes the following elements: working between regions and countries, working with migrant communities in their countries of residence and at the same time in their countries of origin, working on awareness raising and training with professionals, engaging with men and boys, and focusing on different practices together to tackle the issue in a more holistic and sustainable way.

Furthermore, the need to engage more with FGM survivors and affected communities took a firm prescience in all discussions. The emphasis put on funding more grassroots projects was closely linked to a call for more accessible funding schemes, as well as for connecting grassroots organisations with a global coordinated movement to tackle FGM. All of this translates financially into the request to donors for more flexible and sustainable funds, taking into consideration all the aforementioned elements, as well as the dangers of arbitrary geographical separations and the importance of longer projects which are able to produce long-lasting impacts and end the practice of FGM once and for all.

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