• A recent Unicef study indicates Kenya is the leading destination of cross-border FGM
• Kobia says Kenyan authorities worried that the country is a soft spot for carrying out cross-border FGM
Gender CS Margaret Kobia yesterday led her counterparts from Eastern Africa in an inter-ministerial meeting on ending cross border FGM.
The ministers signed a pact in Mombasa after a two-day conference that brought together anti-FGM crusaders and experts from Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
Uganda was represented by Gender and Culture minister Peace Mutuuzo, Somalia had Women Affairs deputy minister Samra Ibrahim, while Tanzania and Ethiopia sent diplomatic representatives.
Participants discussed ways of tackling the emerging trend of cross-border FGM, where communities advancing the practice cross national borders to seek or carry out FGM in neighbouring countries.
A recent study by Unicef showed some of the reasons for the trend ranged from evading the law back home, affordability, availability of circumcisers to preferred quality or outcome of the mutilation.
Nothing kills as silence. We want male champions to join us in fighting this war. This cutting is purportedly meant to please men. They should speak out and explain that, in fact, cutting erodes the pleasure and is outlawedUganda Gender and Culture minister Peace Mutuuzo
The study further indicated that Kenya is the leading destination of cross-border FGM.
The declaration commits the five governments to work together to end FGM within the region by 2030.
Kobia said Kenyan authorities are worried that the country is a soft spot for carrying out cross-border FGM. She said the government will embolden its resolve and tactics to stamp out the practice.
Kobia said the recommendations derived from the conference will be vital in ending the practice and she will ensure their full implementation.
"It is now time to seal the gaps and translate our commitments to results. I urge each of the member states within the region to take specific deliberate measures to implement the adopted action plan," she said.
Her Ugandan counterpart called on male leaders to speak out more and persuasively against gender-based violence and FGM.
"Nothing kills as silence. We want male champions to join us in fighting this war. This cutting is purportedly meant to please men. They should speak out and explain that, in fact, cutting erodes the pleasure and is outlawed," Mutuuzo said.
She said the fight against FGM is not merely a gender issue but a collective struggle to restore sanity in society.
Unicef deputy director Anurita Bains said the ultimate success of national and cross-border programmes will require continued political will, sustained advocacy and scaled-up programmes and investment.
UNFPA Kenya representative Ademola Olajide said the five countries account for almost a quarter of the global number of women and girls who have undergone FGM, which he described as a significant burden to carry for developing economies.