More than 140 million girls around the world have undergone female genital mutilation.
Until a few years ago, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation – most common in Western, Eastern and North Eastern Africa and some Asian and Middle Eastern countries – was an unknown phenomenon to the Maltese islands. However, with the advent of widespread migration and globalisation, the issue has become of global importance.
The introduction of the law against FGM in Malta in September 2013 was a step in the right direction. However, the Malta Girl Guides Association have felt that there is still a lack of awareness among the Maltese population about this illegal practice.
With the benefit of public funding for Small Initiative Schemes operated by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector, the MGG hosted a seminar on FGM under the patronage of Health Parliamentary Secretary Dr Chris Fearne. This was meant to serve as a follow-up to the introduction of the anti-FGM legislation in Malta.
Image: Steph speaking to media
The MGG seminar was organised as part of the Stop the Violence project, designed jointly by UN Women and World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. This project was chosen based on a consultation with the members of the MGG’s advocacy team, who voiced their main concerns and what they’d most like to take action on.
Violence against girls and young women still occurs within communities that have pledged to make a difference. The MGG offers a platform and the right environment for girls to develop both personally and socially, in order to discover their fullest potential through a diverse and interactive programme. This seminar was organised as an opportunity to empower them to speak about issues affecting them worldwide.
The badge curriculum of this project is designed to engage children and young people to reflect on gender-based violence. The project involves all members of the associations to claim their rights and free this world from violence and the fear of violence. The core outcomes are to change gender inequality, challenge violence against girls and young women, support respectful relationships and act to stop violence.
Image: Mater Dei Chief Medical Officer Dr Dennis Vella Baldacchino
The programme can create a powerful force for change by empowering women of all ages to understand and assert their rights, to challenge the root causes of violence, and to reach out to boys and men. The MGG believes that girls are not just victims of violence; they are instigators of their own futures and the leaders of change.
Through the seminar, the MGG raised awareness on FGM on a local level with professionals who are in direct contact with women, especially migrants, and spoke up for potential FGM victims. A panel of professional speakers from the legal and medical sectors addressed the seminar which ended with the participants engaging in an interactive discussion.
The MGG called on the authorities to start collecting data about FGM practices on the island to give more information on enforcement and implementation of the anti-FGM legislation, and to support all professionals who might come in contact with FGM victims in Malta.
Image: Gaby and Cynthia from the advocacy team