Ethiopia: Ethiopia records drastic FGM decline, vows full elimination by 2025

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The number of Ethiopian girls undergoing the retrogressive cultural practice of female circumcision and early marriages has dropped by half and authorities hope to completely diminish the trend within 10 years, senior government officials said in London on Tuesday.

Efforts to fight the cultural practice of early marriages and the female circumcision, known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) amongst communities, remain held back in most societies across Africa.

Ethiopian Gender Minister Zenebe Tadesse, said at the start of an International Conference on the Girl-Child, dubbed the Girl Summit in London, that Addis Ababa had the political enthusiasm to eliminate them.

In Ethiopia, the national rate of FGM decreased by half among girls aged 14 and under, from 52% in 2000, to 23% in 2011. 

Ethiopia has also recorded a massive decline in the national prevalence of child marriage from 33.1% in 1997, to 21.4% in 2010.

"I am proud of our achievements and I would like to share with you our experiences with the hope of inspiring other nations to take decisive, robust action," said Zenebe, the minister in charge of women, children and youth affairs.

Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, told the Girl Summit of his government's intention to entirely eliminate the practices denying girls their rights to happiness and fulfillment of their dreams.

At the Summit, Ethiopian Deputy Premier announced commitments to achieving the total elimination of FGM and the Early Forced Marriage.

The government plans to implement what it calls a strategic, multi-sectorial approach to achieve the eradication of those practices by 2024/25.

"Our approach puts girls at the heart of our commitment, working closely with them, their families and communities, to end these practices for good and break the cycle of harmful traditional practices. We will achieve our aim through a four pronged approach," Demeke told the Summit.

Ethiopia is listed as one of the countries around Africa with some levels of early child marriages.

The government says it would use the trends and other indicators in the National Plan and the National Data Collection Mechanisms, most notably in the 2015 Demographic and Health Survey to measure the situation.

Government officials want to engage gender experts and work towards the creation of strong mechanisms for effective law enforcement. 

The plan also advocates a 10% raise in financial resources to eliminate those practices.

In her address to the Girl Summit, the Ethiopian Gender Minister spoke of the tribulations and triumph of one girl, identified as Yeshalem from the Amhara region of Ethiopia. 

She said: "Yeshalem underwent FGM at three years old to make her a better prospect for being a wife. She was married early, but with a friend’s help, she escaped and the marriage eventually dissolved. 

"Her father tried to marry her again, but she stood for her rights.

"She is in a girls’ club that empowers girls to involve teachers and the police when they hear about threats of child marriage. That is what is powering our efforts to change social norms in Ethiopia," the minister said.

"There are three core elements of our approach, involving: political will, public opinion and partnerships.

"We revised our penal code to incorporate the practice of child marriage and other forms of traditional practices as criminal offences," minister Zenebe told the Summit, adding that "the government has conducted an awareness campaign for decades on the negative impact of child marriage, following a strategy of engaging girls and women; tribal, religious and community leaders."

Ethiopia is implementing grassroots programmes including one known as "Finote Hiwot" (Pathway to Life) with good results and the sense of ‘taboo’ around these issues is being broken down," the official said.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 22July2014

 

22 july 2014 15:15:18




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