YOUTH FORUM CALL TO ACTION
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is a violation of girls’ and women’s rights that is rooted in patriarchy and harmful gender norms. Human rights-based approach and gender transformative approach to ending FGM/C are key to ending the practice and ensuring women and girls have power to enjoy their rights.
Today, the world is home to the largest generation of young people in history, with 1.8 billion worldwide. Nearly 90 percent of the youth live in the Global South with nearly one billion in Asia and Africa only. As future policy makers, legislators, medical practioners and parents, we young people, need to be at the heart of decisions and efforts to end the harmful practice of FGM/C. We are innovators, key stakeholders and pillars of change in our communities.
- We need to make ending FGM/C a priority – from a small village to a global gathering of leaders
- We need multisectoral and intergenerational approaches to work together to end FGM/C
- We need global movement and solidarity to speak in one voice, and our efforts should build on each other’s strength
- Our generation of young people will not settle for incremental change any longer, we are calling for radical change.
We call upon governments, local leaders and other stakeholders to live up to their commitments and to step up their actions urgently to meet our global commitment to end FGM/C by 2030.
Key Recommendations from the Youth Forum on ending FGM/C
o Ensure that youth participation in the local and international decision-making processes is not tokenistic.
o Ensure that political leaders, decision-makers and community leaders listen to the voices of young people and include them in policy design and implementation.
o Shift power back to girls and listen to their experience as they take the lead. Trust them to lead, monitor and evaluate programmes that target them.
o Increase training and learning opportunities for young people, including in communication, writing and storytelling.
o Provide continuous mentorship and leadership training for youth activists to increase their resilience and further action.
o Provide spaces for youth innovation.
Community awareness and community-led activism
o Increase community awareness initiatives so that communities understand what FGM/C is and why it is a harmful practice. This needs to be led by governments in collaboration with local leaders, grassroots organizations and young people.
o Ensure spaces for intergenerational dialogue to explore why local communities choose to continue practicing FGM/C and to be able to talk openly about it.
o Repackage the strategies addressing FGM/C in the communities because it is not in the top list of priorities within communities where the focus is more on basic needs. Organise focus group discussions with community representatives to understand how to talk about FGM/C.
o Provide safe spaces for and encourage women and girls to speak up in communities without the fear of judgment or persecution.
o Work with local influencers, including community and religious leaders, men and boys to turn them into allies.
o Involve careful usage of language to avoid backlashes from local communities at the same time ensuring effective advocacy.
Multi-stakeholder approach and intersectionality
o Mainstream FGM/C interventions into other sectors, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), broader gender-based violence, education, climate change, health and development programming.
o Work together as intersecting movements to challenge the patriarchy and harmful gender norms and engage men on positive masculinity for sustainable efforts to protect girls and young women from FGM/C.
o Integrate topics of FGM/C and SRHR into school curricula to ensure comprehensive knowledge is available for all children to be able to make informed decisions and say no harmful practices.
o Invest in further research to understand the relationship between FGM/C and education and other sectors and how to work together.
o Ensure inclusive language when working across different communities.
Policy and Legislation
o Strengthen global political commitments to end FGM/C.
o Adopt anti-FGM/C laws where they don’t exist and strengthen implementation of legislation where it does.
o Increase awareness and understanding amongst the population, particularly among the youth, of the existing laws and policies and accompany these with user friendly language.
o Engage social media to leverage on a critical mass of leaders to influence policies and that the resulting commitments are disseminated to communities.
o Hold governments to account in ensuring that the existing laws and policies are implemented.
o Gather data and evidence on prevalence and causes of FGM/C in countries and communities where it doesn’t exist.
o Support and design youth and community led participatory approach to research.
o Ensure research data is available and synthesized for communities to use.
o Invest in quality and current date to lead advocacy campaigns.
o Conduct further research on school transition of the girls who are cut and those that are not cut and other intersections of FGM/C with other sectors.
Mental health, well-being and safety
o Ensure support to mental wellbeing and self-care for survivors and activists working to end FGM/C.
o Provide emotional support for women and girls affected by FGM/C.
o Provide funding for mental health and wellbeing.
o Exercise caution and consent when dealing with children, youth and survivors to ensure they are not put at risk.
o Conduct risk assessment to ensure safety of engagement and prepare tools.
o Increase funding towards the FGM/C sector.
o Fund innovative solutions and sustainable interventions led by young people.
o Support and train young people/youth organizations in fundraising and financial management.
Regional networks and partnerships for sustained action and solidarity
o Support networking events and sessions to encourage inter-regional collaboration and movement building.
o Adopt ecological approach to partnerships.
o Work together to share learnings and secure resources.
o Be collaborative not competitive in partnerships.