We must accelerate actions on ending harmful practices to achieve SDGs – UN Agencies

Despite the progress made in the fight against harmful cultural practices against women and girls, the African Continent is still off target to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the United Nations has warned.

It said although interventions implemented by various agencies had yielded some results, millions of girls and women continued to undergo dehumanising harmful practices, particularly child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which were rooted in gender inequality and power imbalances between men and women.

It therefore called for accelerated actions on interventions and coordinated programmes and underscored collective approach from all stakeholders to address the human rights violations and gender-based violence against women and girls to reposition the continent on the path of achieving the SDGs and the African Union Agenda 2063.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) made these observations at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia during a second media training workshop on sensitive reporting to ending child marriage and FGM.

The three-day capacity building exercise was organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) with support from the UNFPA, UNICEF, Plan International and Global Media Campaign to End FGM and brought together selected media practitioners from West, Central and Northern Africa.

Dr Laila Gad, the UNICEF Representative to the AUC and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), noted that harmful practices such as FGM and child marriage violated the rights of children and placed the children at high risk of violence, exploitation and abuse.

She said in Africa, 130 million girls and women were married at childhood, close to 140 million girls and women have undergone FGM while 14 million girls and women have experienced both FGM and child marriage.

“These numbers are staggering and at current trait, we are off track to achieve the SDGs target to eliminate these harmful practices by 2030, there is no doubt that we need to accelerate our actions to eliminate these practices and ensure every child is protected,” she added.

Dr Esther Muia, the Head of the UNFPA Representation Office to the AU ECA, observed that Africa continued to bear the brunt of harmful practices against women and girls such as child marriage and FGM and the situation was jeopardising the progress of the Continent.

She said although progress had been made to ending FGM with statistics indicating about one third of people were less likely to undergo FGM practices as compared to three decades ago, the Continent was far from winning the fight against FGM and other harmful practices.

She explained that about 200 million girls and women globally had experienced FGM practice with most of them found in the African Continent with most of the girls being subjected to the practice before the age of 15.

She said cases of fistula and maternal mortality continued to rise in Africa due to the practice of FGM and child marriage and underscored the urgent need for such harmful practice to be stopped.

She said “locally, it is sad to note that one in five girls is married either formally or informally before reaching age 18, how do we expect a child to raise a child?

“And the number continues to rise because almost 40 percent of girls are married before 18 and what is even more disheartening is that 10 percent of girls (one in 10 girls) are actually married before turning 15, this is unacceptable and we must work together to ensure zero tolerance to gender-based violence” she lamented.

Ms Nena Thundu, Coorinator, Ending Harmful Practices Unit, AUC, noted that the role of the media in development was crucial and the training was meant to boost the skills and knowledge journalists to be able to report to help eliminate harmful practices particularly FGM and child marriage in Africa.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.