Farewell Pioneers Anti-FGM/ Adieu Pionnières anti-MGF
Florence Ali, Amna Abderhamane, Efua Dorkenoo, we swear to continue the long and difficult walk we started together for thirty long years, toward a world without FGM; a world free of violence against women and girls; a world of equality, dignity and respect for all women and girls in Africa and the world.
Florence Ali, Amna Aberhamane, Efua Dorkenoo, nous jurons de poursuivre la longue et difficile marche que nous avons commencée ensemble depuis trente longues années, vers un monde sans MGF; un monde débarrassé de violences contre les femmes et les filles; un monde d'égalité, de dignité et de respect, pour toutes les femmes et les filles d'Afrique et du monde.
Tribute to Florence Ali
by Comfort Effiom, President IAC Cameroon
Florence, my dear Florence, I cannot explain the feeling I had within me, when the news of your death was announced. I am still in a state of shock and disbelief. Why? Why? We always ask, but we don’t question God; that is what you should have told me. Florence my dear, you were such a gentle lady, so quiet, so unassuming, so kind and so wonderful. It was always a pleasure when we met during IAC and Equality Now conferences.
Florence, I will miss your kindness, your open handedness towards me: “Comfort I have changed some dollars to francs, let’s go and look for where we can have some food to eat together.” This was lastly in Burkina Faso. Little did I know Florence, it will be the last time we share a meal together.
Your last email to me was to tell me you were going up country to bury your auntie. You came back and I was told you had been admitted into hospital, and the next news was, Florence is no more, you had passed away.
I am still dreaming. I can’t believe you are no more. You looked so healthy and full of life. If you did not tell anyone you were sick, nobody would believe.
You would always be remembered for your good work in protecting the rights of women and girls. You fought the good fight dear Florence. May your colleagues continue the good work from where you stopped.
Florence, I know this is the time for you to meet your Lord and maker. I know you are resting in peace, sitting at God’s right hand. I shall miss you my dear friend. ADIEU my friend. Rest in perfect peace.
TRIBUTE TO THE LATE MRS. FLORENCE ALI BY THE
GHANAIAN ASSOCIATION FOR WOMEN’S WELFARE (GAWW)
“Everything that happens in the world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for birth and for death….he sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, a time for mourning and a time for dancing”. (Eccl. 3:1-4).
Today, it is not the time set for either joy or dancing. It is a day of sorrow and mourning of our dear Association President, Mrs. Florence Ali.
This tribute is from the Ghanaian Association for Women’s Welfare (GAWW). It is an organisation that was established in 1984 to serve as a national committee of the Inter-African Committee on traditions that affect the health of women and children, especially Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a practice which involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs. Mrs. Ali was elected the President of the Association in the year 2000, a post she held till her death.
She was the President at the time when a few women were fighting against the negative effects of FGM on the health of women and children in Ghana, Africa and indeed other parts of the world. With dedication and hard work, Mrs. Ali became a militant against this gruesome practice of FGM. Age did not deter her from travelling the length and breadth of the country, especially the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and the Brong Ahafo Regions, to sensitise civil societies and communities on the negative effects of FGM on the health and general well-being of women and children.
She engaged chiefs at the National House of Chiefs, other traditional authorities and Members of Parliament to find ways of eradicating the practice. Mrs. Ali worked tirelessly to influence decision-makers to amend the law on FGM which at first targeted only the excisor. The law was finally amended in 2007. She was a very dynamic woman and so strong like a dynamite that she succeeded in arresting some excisors performing FGM and some have been jailed. She also educated some excisors to stop the practice and they laid down their tools. As the President, Mrs. Ali was involved in the lobbying and advocacy process for the UN to pass a resolution banning FGM worldwide. In December 2012, their toils bore fruit as the United Nations General Assembly in its 67th Session unanimously adopted a resolution intensifying global efforts for the elimination of FGM.
The GAWW, being a voluntary association, there was very little financial reward. Nevertheless, Mrs. Florence Ali was very proud of the results of her many years of dedicated service to fight for the preservation of Ghanaian womanhood. She was always ready to share her knowledge on FGM with researchers, experts and any interested person or organizations, especially the media, who wanted to know how the fight against the eradication of FGM started in Ghana and the way forward.
Today, we mourn the death of an illustrious President of GAWW. We in GAWW will always remember her, for she has fought the good fight, she has finished the race, she has kept the faith. Mrs. Ali, GAWW members promise that they will continue the fight against this gruesome, harmful and obnoxious practice of FGM. We do not have adequate words to bid you a befitting farewell for the fight against FGM than to quote from 1Thessaloians 4:14, “ We believe that Jesus died and rose again, so we do believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have died believing in Him”.
Our prayer, hope and consolation are that the Almighty God will grant Mrs. Florence Ali pardon and a peaceful rest till we meet in the heavenly home.
May her soul rest in perfect peace. Amen.
International conference on female genital mutilation and child marriage
“Strengthening the Bridge between Africa and the World to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to FGM and Child Marriage”
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 24 - 26 of April 2014
We, members of National Committees and affiliates of the Inter African Committee, activists, members of civil society, members of parliaments, representatives of governments and international organizations from:
Angola, Benin, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, The Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, having participated in the international conference on female genital mutilation and forced and child marriage Strengthening the Bridge between Africa and the World to Accelerate Zero Tolerance towards FGM and Child Marriage organized in Ouagadougou on 24-26 April 2014 by the Inter-African Committee (IAC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), under the High Patronage of the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Her Excellency Mme Chantal Compaoré, with the support of the Minister of Social Action and National Solidarity of Burkina Faso and the financial support of the Italian Development Cooperation, as well as UNICEF, UNFPA and the Islamic Development Bank;
Recalling the numerous initiatives and measures undertaken in Africa, the continent most affected by these harmful practices, and the Protocol to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa which urges, in Article 5, the African States to “prohibit[…], through legislative measures backed by sanctions, of all forms of female genital mutilation, scarification, medicalisation and para-medicalisation of female genital mutilation and all other practices in order to eradicate them” and affirms in Article 6, “that women and men enjoy equal rights and are regarded as equal partners in marriage. They shall enact appropriate national legislative measures to guarantee that: no marriage shall take place without the free and full consent of both parties; the minimum age of marriage for women shall be 18 years […] ; [and that] every marriage shall be recorded in writing and registered in accordance with national laws, in order to be legally recognized”;
Considering the historical adoption on 20 December 2012 by the 67th ordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly of Resolution 67/146 “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations”, as a fundamental milestone towards the achievement of zero tolerance worldwide;
Reaffirming that female genital mutilation and child marriage are serious violations of human rights which millions of women and girls worldwide have been or are at risk of being subjected to;
Congratulating the Inter-African Committee for its 30th anniversary and its constant dedication aimed at banning female genital mutilation, forced and child marriage and other harmful practices in Africa and worldwide;
Thanking the Government of Burkina Faso for having hosted this important meeting and for its commitment in the fight against these practices;
Congratulating and thanking Madam Chantal Compaoré, First Lady of Burkina Faso and Goodwill Ambassador of the IAC, for her leadership and commitment towards protecting and promoting the rights of girls and women;
Thanking the financial and technical partners, as well as all those of goodwill in Africa and worldwide for their multiform support;
Congratulating the organizers for their excellent work;
Commit to actively pursue the fight for the complete elimination of female genital mutilation and forced and child marriage in our respective countries and wherever these practices exist, and to reinforce cohesion among all actors for the achievement of our common goals.
Recommend to States, International Organizations, especially the United Nations and the African Union, and technical and financial partners, to:
- 1.Ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of Resolution A/RES/67/146, especially:
- a.develop and reinforce legislation, ensuring the promulgation and enforcement of laws at the national level banning these forms of violence, including criminal sanctions for authors and accomplices, prevention measures and support for victims, in conformity with the provisions of the Resolution;
- b.promote cooperation among governments, parliaments and civil society through the exchange of experiences and good practices to harmonize national legislations and policies at the regional and international level, in order to prevent and fight the trans-border phenomenon;
- c.ensure that legislative obligations are respected at the international, regional and national levels, to guarantee the full enjoyment of girls’ and women’s fundamental rights and to put an end to impunity with suitable and effective accountability mechanisms;
- d.collect, analyse and spread, through universities, medical centres, associations committed to the fight and national organizations of women, reliable data on female genital mutilation, especially on prevalence and on existing tools and strategies of prevention so as to evaluate their efficacy, in order to ensure the elaboration and development of evidence-based elimination programs;
- e.reinforce the capacity of the regional and national institutions that watch over the application of measures banning female genital mutilation.
- 2.Develop strategies and actions to put an end to forced and child marriage at the international, regional, and national level, especially:
- a.raise to 18 years the minimum age of marriage, in accordance with provisions of international and regional conventions;
- b.ensure that religious, traditional and civil marriage be accorded the same juridical status so as to protect the rights of married women;
- c.envisage that all legislation reflect that child marriage is a flagrant abuse of the human rights of children.
- d.develop and apply strategies that have been effective in the fight against female genital mutilation to forced and child marriage.
3. Mobilize sufficient resources and engage key actors for the elimination of female genital mutilation and forced and child marriage, especially:
- a.advocate with governments, international organizations and the private sector to increase financial assistance, in order to support at the national, regional and international levels the fight against these human rights violations;
- b.include female genital mutilation and forced and child marriage in all relevant human rights monitoring mechanisms and set up the necessary tools in accordance with the provisions of these mechanisms;
- c.support the implementation of legislation by providing the resources necessary to ensure access to justice and for outreach to and training of law-enforcement officers, prosecutors, magistrates, healthcare professionals, teachers, media representatives and other stakeholder groups;
- d.develop innovative initiatives for outreach about national legislation and the worldwide ban on female genital mutilation and more generally about women and girls’ rights with a view towards the empowerment ;
- e.ensure the inclusion of modules on female genital mutilation and forced and child marriage in university and school curricula;
- f.fully involve traditional and modern media in the fight against female genital mutilation and forced and child marriage to promote media’s sense of responsibility to cover these issues of their own initiative on a permanent basis;
- g.increase the involvement of boys and men as active stakeholders towards zero tolerance of female genital mutilation and forced and child marriage;
- h.encourage politicians, community and religious leaders and managers at all levels to be fully involved in the fight to change behaviours and attitudes, in view of the total elimination of these violations of the human rights of women and girls.
Ouagadougou 26, April 2014