24 January 2023 - NPWJ News Digest on FGM & Women's Rights

Articles

UN aid chief visits Afghanistan to raise concerns over women's rights
Anadolu Agency, 24 Jan 2023

The UN’s aid chief visited Afghanistan on Monday to engage with the Taliban, the country's de facto authorities, to convey messages on the need to reverse policies banning women from public life, said a spokesman. The latest visit by Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths along with the President and Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children US, Janti Soeripto, the Secretary General of Care International, Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, and the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Omar Abdi, comes one month after the Taliban banned Afghan women from working in national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The recent ban put some programs on hold, sowing fears that the already dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan will get worse, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. Women and girls have been deprived of their rights, including the right to education, and disappeared from public life under the Taliban. Girls have been prevented from attending middle and high schools. Many women have demanded that their rights be reinstated by taking to the streets, protesting and organizing campaigns.

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184 Girls Rescued From FGM Reunited With Families
Kenya News, 23 Jan 2023

Joy, cheers and happiness filled the atmosphere at the Taranganya Girls Boarding Primary School as a total of 184 girls who had been held for the last five weeks after escaping FGM were finally released to go back home. Similar ecstatic moods were experienced at Kubweye Girls Secondary School where another 180 girls were harbored after escaping the vice. Filled with a lot of vigour to meet their long missed family members, the girls could not hide their joy after getting a chance to meet with their loved ones and in addition to the fact that ‘cuttings’ were done away with and it was now safe to go home. 15-year-old Miriam Bokhe recounts that despite being visited by both her parents, going back home was the best feeling ever. This however does not beat the fact that the girls gained a lot during their time at the rescue camps. At the Taranganya rescue centre, young girls got a rare opportunity to learn various skills that kept them busy hence making them feel less of being rescued from the unforgiving world they lived in. In addition, they received sensitization on the dangers of FGM on girls and the future repercussions associated with the cut.

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Sierra Leone passes law to improve women’s workplace rights
JURIST, 23 Jan 2023

Sierra Leone Monday passed a landmark law promoting women’s rights in the workplace and positions of power. The Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act (GEWE) was signed into law by President Julius Maada Bio, who stated that the law will “address the gender imbalances in this country comprehensively.” The GEWE, introduced to parliament in 2021, requires that 30 percent of public and private positions are reserved for women, including leadership and parliamentary roles. The law also mandates equal pay for men and women in the same job, penalises discrimination against women seeking access to financial services or resources, permits 14 weeks of maternity leave for women, provides for increased training opportunities for women in the workplace and mandates annual reviews of the GEWE’s implementation in public and private institutions. In a speech, Bio apologised for the country’s treatment of women and noted the numerous women who contributed to Sierra Leone’s history and democracy, including his mother, Queen Nyarroh of Bandasuma, and leader of the Mende people Madam Yoko.

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Liberia: “Bush School” Famous For FGM Practice Closes In Liberia
Front Page Africa, 23 Jan 2023

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly designated February 6th each year as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, with the aim to amplify and direct the efforts on the elimination of this practice. On the heels of commemorating the day on Monday, February 6, 2023, a famous “Bush School” which has existed many years, practicing FGM, in Sonkai Town, Todee District, Rural Montserrado County, has been closed. The program on the closure rituals of initiation without mutilation on FGM took place on Friday, January 20, 2023. It was organized by Liberia’s National Council of Chiefs and Elders in collaboration with the Ministries of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Internal Affairs and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Jaha Dukureh whose organization, Safe Hands For Girls, is being supported by International Organization Equality Now.

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UNFPA partners with NHRC to advance women's rights in Nepal
The Himalayan , 23 Jan 2023

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) entered into a partnership today with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to support NHRC's effort for promoting human rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health rights, and combating gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful practices. Won Young Hong, Country Representative of UNFPA, and Murari Prashad Kharel, Secretary of NHRC signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Top Bahadur Magar, Hon. Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, Lily Thapa, Hon. Member of NHRC, and other officials of NHRC. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Won Young Hong, UNFPA Resident Representative stated, "Nepal has made significant progress in formulating progressive laws and policies protecting women's rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Despite this progress, there has been inconsistency in the enforcement and implementation of these laws and policies. This is why we are pleased to partner with NHRC to ensure women's rights and choices are upheld through the national development process".

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'Mum took me on holiday in Egypt... to have me mutilated': FGM survivor, 30, calls for end of barbaric practice - and has 'no blame' for her mother who took her to backstreet clinic aged nine
Daily Mail, 22 Jan 2023

A survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM) calls for an end of the barbaric practice - which is still identified in many women each year in the UK alone - and has 'no blame' for her mother who took her to a backstreet clinic aged nine. Basma Kamel, 30, is a student at London Metropolitan University and she was a victim of FGM at nine years old, after going on a 'summer vacation' with her mother during her school holidays while still living in Egypt before moving to the UK in 2019. Over the last seven years alone, more than 30,000 cases of FGM were newly identified by NHS doctors, despite the practice being illegal since 1985.  New data in December revealed that for the first time last year, the number of newly identified cases of FGM has decreased and does not exceed 700 during the four month period from July to September when the data was collected by the NHS.  Overall, the number of FGM cases identified by NHS workers has decreased from the start of the data collection in 2015 with 6,000 cases to now, where the number of roughly 3,000 newly identified cases per year has been consistent for the last three years. 

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