Yesterday I took part in a roundtable organised by the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament alongside organisations working across the EU on the issue of combatting female genital mutilation (FGM).
I have written before about the movement to end this practice, which is a gross violation of the human rights of women and girls. As Labour MEPs, we have been pushing for more concrete action to eradicate FGM in the EU and across the world, including the full implementation of the measures in the European Commission’s Communication on eliminating FGM.
At the UK level, the government could be doing a lot more. Despite the creation of new reporting obligations for professionals who are in contact with girls at risk of FGM, many of those working in the field are concerned about the lack of a national action plan and sustainable funding for community prevention programmes.
These community based prevention programmes are not getting the resources they need. This means programmes like REPLACE 2, based in the West Midlands, which supports community leaders to empower and mobilise those women and girls directly affected by FGM, are not being scaled up and replicated enough. I met with the team behind the REPLACE toolkit at its launch last year in the European Parliament and was very impressed by their innovative approach. Their project relies on EU funding and support and is just one example of how our membership of the EU helps the campaign to end FGM.
FGM is very much a cross-border issue which requires a co-ordinated and multi-level strategy. Through working with our partners in Europe to share best practices and, ultimately, to deliver change, we can create the enabling environment needed to make FGM a thing of the past.