UNAF - One Step beyond: 'Urgent agenda against FGM

UNAF X International Conference, 8 & 9 February 2021

After more than a decade working to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), while facing the challenges exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic, UNAF dedicated this year’s International Conference to summarise the progress made, to create more awareness and to debate on the key policies and measures needed to advance the promotion of Women and Girl's rights.

The event was held online, and more than 200 people registered and attended the online panel discussions.

Great advances have been made at the State and International levels, in policies, strategies and measures to put an end to this form of gender violence and address women's and surviving girl's rights. However, we also face multiple challenges due to the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic and the subsequent crisis and global transformation.

The first day was dedicated to analyse the context, achievements, obstacles, current challenges, and agenda at the policy level since the 2012 United Nation's resolution, the 2030 Agenda and the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention to the Grevio Report for Spain (2021).

The first panel was composed of Alfonso Barragues, Deputy Director of the United Nations Population Fund Office in Geneva, in the international context; To address the European context: Biljana Brancovic, Rapporteur of the GREVIO Report of the Council of Europe for Spain; and in the National context: Bárbara Tardón, advisor to the Ministry of Equality in Spain, who announced the forthcoming development of the National Strategy for the Eradication of all forms of Sexist Violence, which will include specific measures against female genital mutilation and will include the participation of associations, experts and affected communities.

On the second day, they dealt with the operational context, resources, and services: focusing on the urgency for the development of comprehensive/holistic care and services for surviving Women and Girls, as well as enhancing the key role of Cultural Mediators and the need to acknowledge them as key professionals and provide the resources needed to integrate them into public services. 

This panel was composed of, Mª Ángeles Rodríguez Benito, clinical psychologist and sexologist from UNAF, and Sonia Duarte Lopez, from APF Portugal, who detailed the kinds of services and support this holistic care support for women and girls survivors should include, where they highlighted the importance of psycho-sexual therapy and Evangelina Martich, UNAF external consultant, who presented the Mapping of specialised psychosexual care services and resources in Spain that UNAF has produced, aimed at discovering the existing resources, detecting needs and promoting specialised quality services. It consists of approximately sixty-five free or low-cost social resources that are aligned with sexual and reproductive rights and work from gender, interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives.

In the second panel, the aim was to delve into the support services that should be part of the holistic and multidisciplinary care. They started with a presentation of good practices for a Comprehensive approach to the demand for surgery, with the participation of Kakpotia Mari-Claire Moraldo as Director and Hamadou Ismael, obstetrician, gynaecologist and surgeon, both from Orchidees Rouges Association in Bordeaux, and Arnaud Sevene, sexologist, from Maison des Femmes Saint- Denis in Paris. They also had the participation of Celia Luis de Leon, Physical Therapist specialised in Pelvic floor Physical Therapy from Fuerteventura (Canary Islands), who spoke about this discipline as a key part of the proposed holistic care; as well as Marisol Saelo, Social worker and expert in GBV, from Madrid, who highlighted how Social Services and Cultural Mediation should also be present.

These UNAF International Conferences against FGM, which have been taking place since 2012, constitute a privileged space for the transfer and exchange of knowledge, the development of debate and the creation and strengthening of collaboration networks among activists, professionals, NGO and public institutions with the common objective of guaranteeing and defending Human rights of Women and Girls.