Bamako Sub-Regional Conference on FGM and on the implementation of the Maputo Protocol

21-22 February 2006


Mali is among the countries where Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is remains an almost universal practice. Despite government efforts since 1997, about 92% * [* EDS III: Demographic and Health Survey III (2001)] of the female population in Mali continues to be subjected to this harmful practice.
Despite the fact that FGM is a violation of human rights and can endanger the life of its victims, the practice is considered by some within the Malian establishment to be a ‘sensitive issue’. Its gravity has thus has been effectively minimized in order to justify the curtailment of political will to address it via legislative means and leading instead to a preference for ‘building awareness’ and ‘sensitization’ campaigns.
The fight against FGM in Mali and the Ratification of the Maputo Protocol 
In June 1997, the Government undertook its first steps aimed at ending FGM. The Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children and Families created a National Committee of Action for the Abandonment of Harmful Practices (CNAPN) and began the National Programme to Fight Excision (PNLE), which coordinates the actions of the various stakeholders - both civil society and state structures - active against FGM within Mali.
In addition, in 1998 the Government developed a plan of action aimed at eliminating the practice of FGM by 2008;  the first phase of this action (1998-2004) focused on education and dissemination of information, while the second phase (2004-2008) on the adoption and implementation of a national law condemning the practice.
On 13 January 2005, the Government of Mali deposited the instruments of ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women, adopted by Heads of State of 53 countries of the African Union, which condemns in Article 5, all forms of harmful practices which negatively affect women's human rights [...] "and States Parties shall undertake to" prohibit by legislative measures backed by sanctions of all forms of female genital mutilation ".
By joining the 10 countries that had previously ratified the Protocol and committing to the principles of this instrument, the Government of Mali strengthened the effort to constitute a real area of law for the protection of women's rights in the region and more widely across the African continent.

The Government of Mali, through the Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children and Families, in partnership with the international organization No Peace Without Justice and local organizations that combat female genital mutilation, organized the Bamako Sub-regional Conference on FGM and the implementation of the Maputo Protocol with the aim to serve as a catalyst for  activists and stakeholders within Malian society in their work to bring an end to this practice.
The Conference was an opportunity to reaffirm the issue of FGM as a priority in Mali, to highlight the consensus across the sub-region that the fight against FGM should be placde at the top of the political agenda, and to focus on the ratification of the Maputo Protocol and the issues related to its implementation.
The Government of Mali was able to reiterate its commitment to ending FGM and to inform the public about this aim through an awareness and information campaign in the weeks preceding the conference itself, both in urban and rural areas.
The Conference mobilized a large number of government representatives, parliamentarians, civil society and community leaders, from both Mali and countries of the Francophone West Africa.