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Puntland takes stand against female genital mutilation

January 18, 2012
Est. Reading: 2 minutes
Photo credit: PDRC

 “An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In Africa an estimated 92 million girls 10 and older have undergone FGM. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.” - World Health Organization

Two decades of civil war have contributed to the negligence of women’s rights across the Somali region. Women continue to suffer from the tragedies of the war as well as from practices including FGM.

However, the government of Puntland enacted laws against Female Genital Mutilation in November 2011, a development that has been welcomed by human rights activists across the world. The new law came into effect after long discussions and eventual support by the traditional and religious leaders in addition to various scholars.

To encourage these positive developments, Interpeace local partner Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC) hosted a two-day conference with leading women’s rights activists from across the region – Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya as well as from Somali Region: Somaliland, Puntland and South-Central Somalia.

The conference was organized by Puntland Ministry of Women Development and Family Affairs (MOWDAFA) and was held at PDRC’s Main conference hall in Garowe, Puntland. The conference focused on how to best approach policies around FGM.

Over 150 women and other concerned Somalis participated in the conference. They traveled from across Puntland, Somaliland, and South-Central Somalia. Those from the Somali diaspora in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti also attended.

Minister of Women and Familiy Affairs in Puntland Asha Gelle Dirie

Photo credit: PDRC

As a persistent activist for women’s rights and family development, Ms. Asha Gelle Dirie, Puntland’s Minister of Women and Family Affairs organized the conference. The Transitional Federal Government’s Minister of Women Development, Ms. Maryan Aweys, officially opened the conference.

Among the dignitaries who participated in the conference were the First Lady of Puntland H.E. Abdurahman Faroole, the Vice President of Puntland Abdismed Ali Shire and Ms. Amina Abib who is a Goodwill Ambassador of the FGM eradication campaign. In her opening speech Ms. Abib expressed her joy to attend a conference focused on bringing an end to Female Genital Mutilation. The conference emphasized the need for Somali women to join forces with each other to end this practice.

The conference produced 9 proposals on how best to end FGM across Puntland and the Horn of Africa.