NO to FGM
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Mrs. Mariam Lamizana (Burkina Faso) - President
Dr. Amna A.R. Hassan (Sudan) - Vice President
Mrs. Sidibé Kadidia Maiga Aoudo (Mali) - Vice President
Dr. Isatou Touray (Gambia) - Secretary General
Mrs. Comfort Effiom (Cameroon) - Treasurer
Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté, IAC Executive Director
1986 - The IAC and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) signed a protocol of agreement on cooperation and assistance
2013- Collaboration strategy between the IAC, the African Union, UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNICEF, UNFPA and ACERWC
To see a society in which African women and children fully enjoy their 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.