Tribute to Florence

Advocating for IAC

The Inter-African Committee on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children (IAC) is an African regional umbrella body that has been working on policy programmes and actions to stop FGM in the African Region for the last 28 years. It was formed by African delegates to a seminar organised by a United Nations NGO Working Group on Traditional Practices based in Geneva, with the support of UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO and the Ministry of Health of Senegal. It was formed at a time when female genital mutilation was a highly controversial and a ‘sensitive’ issue for discussion and there was a critical need for an African regional voice in an international campaign against FGM.

The mission of IAC is an African Region free of female genital mutilation and gender related harmful practices. Its two main objectives are to:

  • prevent and eliminate traditional practices that are harmful to or impede the health, human development and rights of women and girls and advocate for care for those who suffer the health consequences of harmful practices;
  • promote and support those traditional practices that improve and contribute to the health, human development and rights of women and children.

The headquarters of IAC is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where it is registered as a non profit organisation and it has a liaison office in Geneva. The IAC has national chapters, referred to as national committees, in 29 African countries. The IAC links to African population groups in the diaspora through its many affiliates throughout the world (Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Japan).


The IAC is organised as follows:

  • A General Assembly which consists of all the national committees;
  • The Executive Board (consisting of members from 5 African countries elected by the General Assembly + 6 zone coordinators);
  • The Executive Branch (secretariat)  that includes all technical staff in Addis Ababa and Geneva;
  • National committees;
  • Scientific committee; and
  • Thousands of volunteers participating in the work of IAC in all the countries.

The Inter-African Committee enjoys consultative status with the United Nations (UN/ECOSOC) and holds an observer status with the African Union. It works in partnership with UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF and is a member of the NGO network affiliated to the International Organisation of Francophone countries. The IAC collaborates with several international organisations active in the field of the protection of women’s and children’s human rights.

Working within the framework of the 1979 United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and with a number of partners, IAC has made a major contribution in raising awareness at all levels of policy on harmful practices, particularly female genital mutilation, and in advocating for their recognition and/or integration in various United Nations and regional human rights treaties, statements and declarations of major UN conferences on women. These include:

  • 1984: Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishment;
  • 1990: United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 24.3):
  • 1990: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
  • 1993: United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (Res. 48/104, 48 U.N. GAOR)
  • 1994: International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (Cairo)
  • 1995: United Nations 4th World Conference on Women (Beijing)
  • 1997: WHO Regional Plan of Action to accelerate the elimination of FGM;
  • 1997: Joint WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF Statement for the elimination of FGM (updated in 2008);
  • 1999: United Nations Resolution, ECOSOC, A/RES/53/117 on FGM;
  • 2003: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on the Rights of Women (referred to as the Maputo Protocol).

In 1990, the IAC General Assembly voted to adopt the terminology female genital mutilation and its acronym FGM to replace the euphemism ‘female circumcision’, during its General Assembly held in Addis Ababa. FGM has since been in usage by United Nations ECOSOC, African governments, African women and the international public.

In February 2003, the Inter-African Committee organised an International Conference entitled “Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation” that led to three major outcomes:

  • the adoption of the 6th of February by the UN as an International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) ;
  • a call on African Heads of State requesting their personal commitment and involvement in the struggle for the elimination of female genital mutilation  (FGM) ;
  • joining efforts between different actors (governments, UN institutions, parliamentarians, legislators, policy makers, NGOs…) in order to coordinate their approaches and harmonise activities under the coordination of the Inter-African Committee.


Madame Chantal Compaoré, the First Lady of Burkina Faso and Goodwill Ambassador of the Inter-African Committee, has made tremendous efforts in Africa and around the world advocating especially to the Heads of State, governments, international institutions, other development partners and communities against FGM.


In the 29 African countries where FGM is a traditional practice, the IAC national committees and other development partners have intensified actions to prevent FGM at local level.

In 1998 (Banjul, The Gambia), in 2001 (Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania), in 2005 (Egypt and Burkina Faso) and in 2007 (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), IAC organised four symposia respectively for religious leaders who created a Network of African Religious Leaders against FGM and for Development. This network has developed a practical guide for advocacy and sensitization on female genital mutilation.


Since 2000, the Inter-African Committee initiated the creation by young people from its 29 member countries, an African Regional Network of Youth for the elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM). The second forum of this network was held in November 2006, in Addis Ababa, and it resulted in the formulation of a youth programme for both national and regional levels.


The Inter-African Committee has also established a scientific committee to:

  • give scientific support to activities, projects and programmes;
  • make scientific analysis of results; failures and successes;
  • provide scientific support in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluation of activities;
  • carry out operational and fundamental research on HTPs/FGM.

As a result of all the efforts made by the Inter-African Committee, the taboo surrounding FGM is broken and there is ground swell of people against FGM in Africa. 17 African countries have passed laws against FGM. As part of the culmination of extensive community outreach sessions, several public ceremonies have been observed where traditional excisers have laid down their knives and communities have openly made a declaration against FGM.

The Inter-African Committee was awarded by UNFPA with the prestigious United Nations Population Award in 1995.

The current Board members are:

  1. Mrs. Mariam Lamizana (Burkina Faso)............President
  2. Mrs. Florence Ali (Ghana)................................Vice-President
  3. Mrs. Hawa Djama Idleh (Djibouti).....................Vice-President
  4. Mrs. Assibi Napoe (Togo).................................Secretary General
  5. Mrs. Fatumata Djau Balde (Guinea Bissau).....Treasurer
  6. Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté (Guinea)...................Executive Director
  7. Ms. Theresa Ehiaghe Omofuma (Nigeria).......Coordinator Zone 1
  8. Mr. Sibiri Coulibaly (Côte d'Ivoire)...................Coordinator Zone 2
  9. Mrs. Magatte Sy Gaye (Senegal)............................Coordinator Zone 3
  10. Mrs. Effiom Comfort (Cameroon).....................Coordinator Zone 4
  11. Mrs. Shamso Said (Somalia)...................................Coordinator Zone 5
  12. Mr. Sande Geofrey (Uganda).................................Coordinator Zone 6
  13. Dre. Aoua Bocar Ly-Tall (Canada).... ...............Coordinator America Zone
  14. Japan................................................................Coordinator Middle East-Asia Zone
  15. Mrs. Zahra Naleie (The Netherlands)...............Coordinator Europe Zone




1986 - The IAC and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) signed a protocol of agreement on cooperation and assistance
1990 - The IAC Addis Ababa office was inaugurated as the Headquarters.
1993 - The IAC was granted consultative Status Category II by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
1994 - The IAC was accorded Observer Status by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now known as African Union (AU)
1995 - The IAC was granted official Status by the World Health Organization (WHO)
2000 - Letter of Agreement between UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, IAC
2009- Memorandum of Understanding with IOM

2013- Collaboration strategy between the IAC, the African Union, UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNICEF, UNFPA and ACERWC



Future Policy Award 2014 Silver awards were granted to Burkina Faso, collected by First Lady Chantal Compaoré. It went to its Law Prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation, adopted in 1996. Since the adoption of the law and the implementation of a National Action Plan, surveys confirm a significant decrease in the proportion of younger women who have undergone the harmful practice. About 12 per cent of girls under-14 are cut now compared to 25 per cent in 2006.



IAC participated to the Africa Prosecutors Association Sexual and Gender Based Violence training  16 to 20 October 2014, Kinshasa, DRC


Inter-African Committee (IAC), African Union (AU), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Committee of Expert on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), UNICEF Liaison Office to AU and UNECA and UNFPA Liaison to AU and UNECA, have developed a Collaboration Strategy on Traditional Practices. 


18 June 2014, the Inter-African Committee organized an important workshop on the 5-year program for the elimination of FGM in 29 african countries, with the technical and financial support of the Islamic Development Bank.


















To see a society in which african women and children fully enjoy they human rights to live free from harmful traditional practices.


To promote gender equality and contribute to the improvement of the health status, social, economic, political, human rights and quality of life of African women and children through elimination of harmful traditional practices and the promotion of beneficial ones.

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