UNESCO calls for youth empowerment through education to end Female Genital Mutilation

" the elimination of this horrendous practise must start with education and local communities"

In the sidelines of the 58th CSW session, Director-General Irina Bokova participated as a key-note speaker in the event organized by the Permanent Mission of Burkina Faso, the Permanent Mission of Italy, UNESCO, UNICEF and the UNFPA, entitled "Empowering Young People to End Female Genital Mutilations: The Role of Governments and Civil Society".

This high-level side event provided an opportunity for Member States and civil society organizations to present concrete plans and actions to empower young people and obtain their full participation, including the most marginalized youth, in the design and implementation of interventions to end FGM.

The Director-General stated that cultural traditions cannot provide a pretext or justification for the violation of human rights and dignity and she recalled the founding principles of cultural diversity as outlined in the UNESCO Declaration.

"The defence of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative inseparable from respect for human dignity, while at the same time no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope," she reminded the audience.

She stated also that the elimination of this horrendous practise must start with education and local communities.

"We need to keep up the pace - to apply laws at the national level and to build human rights into the new global sustainable development agenda Member States will set to follow 2015", Irina Bokova concluded.

In addition to testimonials from young people, this event featured high-level speakers, including the First Lady of Burkina Faso, the Ambassadors of Italy and Burkina Faso, ministers from Italy, Australia, Kenya, United Kingdom, as well as high-level officials from UN agencies and representatives of civil society organizations.