"The End FGM action campaign led by Amnesty International started in 2009 with one main objective: It was to make sure that stopping female genital mutilation would become a priority for the European Union." Elise Petitpas
Panel Discussion: Spotlight on Progress "Moving up the Agenda: Public and Political"

Context: This presentation is from one of the 14 "Spotlights on Progress" video-recorded sessions from the Girl Summit 2014, London, United Kingdom (UK). The sessions were organised to share best practice between practitioners, grassroots activists, and government ministers across the issues of female genital mutilation (FGM) (also FGM/C - female genital mutilation/cutting) and child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM). Girl Summit is a project of the Department for International Development (DFID), UK.

Profile of speaker: A featured panelist of this Spotlight session was Elise Petitpas, who was, at the time of the presentation, Advocacy Officer, Amnesty International. Her presentation was entitled "European Union action plan to end FGM". "Elise has worked for the END FGM European Campaign of Amnesty International since 2010.  As the Advocacy Officer, she monitors developments at the European institutions on gender-based violence and FGM.  She ensures that the European Union (EU) develops relevant instruments on both issues and adequately implements its legislation and policies." In 2015, she is working with Médecins du Monde.

Strategy overview: Among Ms. Petitpas's comments: There is an EU action plan in place to work on the elimination of FGM in Member States of the EU, as well as outside the EU. The EU member states have made commitments to end FGM, following advocacy and communication campaigns. Member states have included policies for ending FGM in many legal Union instruments, and they have made commitments to national, EU and international action on FGM. Her discussion described: "How did we get there?"

Ms. Petitpas highlighted a number of elements as key to Amnesty's success:

  1. reputation, expertise, and experience of the Amnesty brand.
  2. a clear message, linked to mobilisation and partnering with existing organisations working on FGM, along with activists and FGM survivors around the objective - getting an EU policy in place based on human-rights-based approach to create an accountability framework - and around making change in the life of women and girls.
  3. working from the key messaging with decisionmakers and activists and with the public, using a petition launched during the "16 days Activism Against Gender-Based Violence" yearly campaign (See related summary below.).
  4. flexibility: for example, the price of the economic crisis on the safety of women in Europe demanded added flexibility in working with partnering organisations.

Ms. Petitpas reviewed challenges. First was the limited number of organisations working on FGM in Europe. The second was working on the breadth of an EU-wide campaign that included support for national actions. She concluded by describing the creation of the END FGM European network, tasked with creating an accountability framework, for which training and expertise is needed to support ongoing work. She emphasised ratification, in August 2014, of the "Council of Europe Convention on preventing  and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) Female Genital Mutilation".

From Summit documents: "The END FGM European Campaign started in 2009 as a partnership between Amnesty International and community-based and women’s rights NGOs in the EU.  It aims to place FGM high on the EU agenda and echo the voices of affected women and girls. The Campaign developed a "Strategy for the European Union" as a result of which the European Commission adopted a Communication "Towards the elimination of FGM" in 2013.  The Campaign also provides a platform for partner NGOs to exchange good practices and build their capacities to advocate at EU level.  To further the work and continue after the Campaign ends, the END FGM European Network was created in May 2014.  It brings together 11 NGOs based in the EU to ensure FGM remains high on the European agenda and that commitments to end FGM are implemented in Europe and beyond.  For more information, see their website."

From the One Year On document [PDF format]: "Fighting against  traditional harmful practices  and social norms, including CEFM and FGM, is a clear priority under the 2014-2020 EU external cooperation programming phase. The European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission have collectively, since 2014 and on-going, supported 14 projects with actions on FGM, for a total amount of 6.5 million €, (Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Senegal, Benin, Togo and Yemen). We have funded grassroots projects implemented by local partners to supporting international NGOs and UN agencies.

A call for proposals has been launched and evaluated to develop a web-based knowledge platform on  FGM  for  professionals  coming  into  contact  with  victims  and  girls  at  risk.  Proposals  have  also  been  submitted  under  the  harmful practices call  (4.5  million  euro). On  CEFM:  We  are supporting the AU campaign to end child marriage, notably in DRC through partnering with the Congolese national authorities, UNICEF and UNFPA at  the  occasion  of  the  national  launching  event in May. We consider joining end of this year the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Initiative to end CEFM, after our participation to the Girls Not Bride and Donor Working Group on CEFM in Casablanca in May 2015."

Overview of this Summit session: From the Girl Summit summary document: "An exchange of experiences in getting FGM and CEFM onto the agenda and building public and political support to end these harmful practices. Lessons will range from local to international action, highlighting a range of approaches from networks and coalitions to campaigns and the media. Discussion will focus on key elements that have contributed to success, how to capture more attention and create more pressure, and challenges in keeping FGM and CEFM high on the agenda."

The speakers for this session are:

Introduction: Permanent Secretary Linus Awute, Ministry of Health, Nigeria.

Magreth Kibasa Children’s Dignity Forum, Tanzania.

John Chua,Wadi.

Dr Albino Francisco, Executive Director, National Coalition to Eliminate Child Marriage.

Elise Petitpas, Advocacy Officer, Amnesty International.

Naz Ahmed and Lisa Zimmermann, student and teacher - The City Academy Bristol/Integrate Bristol.

"The session is moderated by Saroja Coehlo, Radio Editor and Presenter, formerly Environment Editor and Radio Presenter at Deutsche Welle."

Footage of this (available below) and other "Spotlights" are available on DFID’s YouTube channel.

The Girl Summit is a project of DFID. Click here and scroll down to see the full list of individuals and organisations committed to working on girls' issues, as well as a list of Girl Summit Charter signatories.


DFID Girl Summit Outcomes website and the End FGM in the EU website, accessed on August 25 2015.

See video