Dear friends, 

We are happy to present our last newsletter of the year covering the work of the End FGM European Network Secretariat, the activities of our members and policy developments regarding FGM and gender-based violence over the last three months.

Thank you for all your support and interest in our work this year. You can help us continue promoting the rights of women and girls affected by FGM by donating online. We look forward to hearing from you in 2017.
Secretariat Updates
• Network Ambassadors Programme Launch & Training
On December 9th and 10th, we officially launched our Network Ambassadors programme. The Ambassadors are individuals with a personal link to the issue of FGM who have the passion and commitment to speak out against the practice. Read more on our website. In the first phase of the programme, our 7 English-speaking ambassadors joined us in Brussels for a two-day training session. On the first day, the ambassadors had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Network’s work and the EU institutions and policies on FGM, while also sharing their own vision and goals for this programme and the ways they can contribute to advocating for women and girls’ rights at the EU level. The second day focused on developing the ambassadors’ advocacy, communications and media skills through practical exercises and role play. Keep an eye on our website and social media over the coming weeks for more information on our Ambassadors and the new role they will be undertaking!
• EASO Consultative Forum, 28-29 November 2016, Athens
The Network took part in the EASO Consultative Forum that took place in Athens on 28th and 29th November. The forum was attended by a wide variety of NGOs and other stakeholders. The interactive and participatory format of the forum led to interesting discussions on the way civil society should interact with EASO in the future, the future of the Common European Asylum System, the gender dimension of the asylum process, vulnerable groups and country of origin information .
• EASO Workshop on FGM, Malta 25-26 October 2016
The Network attended and contributed to a workshop for researchers from national authorities working on Country of Origin Information on FGM. Experts and academics on Senegal, The Gambia, Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso trained the national experts on FGM so that they can reach a better understanding and include the most up to date information about the reality of FGM in these countries. The Network stressed the importance of the Country of Origin Information being up to date and realistic about the capacity that girls or women at risk have to protect themselves, or the capacity of their families to protect them from FGM.
• ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly exchange of views on FGM
On October 14th, our Director Liuska Sanna, participated in the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting to speak on ‘Female genital mutilation: how to eradicate it’. She presented the latest statistics on FGM worldwide and emphasised that a holistic approach is needed to combat FGM, including prevention, protection and support, integrated policies with a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach, and gender and child sensitive investigation and prosecution procedures. The Network also presented some of the projects of our members which aim to build bridges between the affected diaspora communities in Europe and the countries of origin. You can watch the discussion online starting at 1:14:00.
• UK National FGM Centre Conference, 12th October 2016, London
The Network attended the UK National FGM Centre's conference "From Innovation to Practice; A Year of Learning", and presented on tackling FGM in the EU, the progress and challenges ahead. We highlighted the importance of working together across professional fields and countries in order to enhance prevention and awareness. Our two transnational EU funded projects, the UEFGM Web knowledge Platform and Change Plus, were also presented as exciting tools and methods used to enhance and support key training for professionals and prevention work at communication level. The UK National FGM Centre is now in its second year and focuses on key work with social workers, the police and other professionals. A risk assessment matrix and other key tools in social care provision for those affected by FGM were presented throughout the day, as well as testimonies from service users and a rousing and moving performance from pupils at Norbury School, who shared their key knowledge about their rights as children to physical and mental integrity. 
• Conference on FGM & Asylum / Members' Training on Victims' Rights Directive
Following our conference on FGM and asylum in the EU, and the training of our members on the Victims’ Rights Directive in November, both our Position Paper on asylum and our Q & A Guide on the application of the Victims’ Rights Directive in cases of FGM, are available online. If you’ve missed our conference, you can find more information on our website.

• United to End FGM Online Platform EU Launch Event 
In February 2017, the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU will organise an event on violence against women. As part of this event, the United to End FGM Knowledge Platform, an online training tool for professionals, will be officially launched. As a project partner, the End FGM European Network will attend the launch along with participating Network members GAMS, INTACT, MIGS, Terre des Femmes, APF, Akidwa, FORWARD, AIDOS, Excisions Parlons-en, Medicos del Mundo, and all other partners. Keep an eye on the website for more information on this training tool and do register in February to learn more about FGM. 
Policy Developments
• European Commission 2017: Year of Focused Actions on Violence against Women
The European Commission has announced that 2017 will be dedicated to combating violence against women. A series of focused actions will aim to coordinate efforts across the EU and address the problem from all directions and at all levels from local authorities to national governments and international organisations.
• Istanbul Convention Progress
The European Parliament has adopted Resolution calling on the Council of the European Union and the European Commission to speed up negotiations on the signing and conclusion of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). The Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee of the European Parliament held a hearing on the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention where they reiterated their call. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women attended the hearing and also called on the EU to accede to the Convention and send a strong political signal that violence against women should be eradicated from the EU and all its Member States. Our Network has joined forces with more than 25 European civil society networks forming a European Coalition to End Violence against Women and Girls. On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women we called on EU decision makers to act in order to ensure that the EU signs and concludes the Istanbul Convention in 2017.
• European Commission Communications on Sustainable Development
In November, the European Commission announced three Communications on development. The Communication on the next steps for a sustainable European future explains how the Commission's 10 political priorities contribute to implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and how the EU will meet the Sustainable Development Goals in the future. The second Communication on a new European Consensus on Development proposes a shared vision and framework for development cooperation for the EU and its Member States, aligned with the 2030 Agenda. The third Communication on a renewed partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries proposes building blocks for a new, sustainable phase in EU-ACP relations after the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020.
• Parliamentary Assembly adopts Resolution on Female genital mutilation in Europe
On October 13th, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a Resolution on Female genital mutilation in Europe based on a Report by Béatrice Fresko-Rolfo. The members of the Assembly stated that prevention must lie at the heart of all efforts to eradicate FGM and awareness-raising, information and education campaigns must include both women and men in the communities concerned. The Resolution calls for FGM to be recognised as violence against women and children, extraterritorial jurisdiction for domestic courts so that criminal prosecutions can be initiated when FGM has been committed abroad, and public awareness-raising and information campaigns to combat the practice.
Members' Updates
• AIDOS (Italy)
In September, AIDOS started a new project in partnership with Equipop and GAMS Belgique, involving Amsopt and other African CSOs. Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to Tackle FGM/C, supported by the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C, aims to create links among African communities, young activists, professionals (media, health, psycho-social, etc.) dealing with FGM in Europe and in Africa to address the issue, strengthen links, share and adapt existing best practises in a mutual learning and exchange perspective. On the 20th of October, AIDOS launched the Italian edition of UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2016 Report, titled 10. How our future depends on a girl at this decisive age. AIDOS continues to organize multidisciplinary training sessions for professionals on gender based violence and FGM; the last one was held on the 5th of December and targeted social workers and health personnel from Imola’s local health center (AUSL). This was also the occasion to promote the soon to be launched European web knowledge platform for professionals United to End FGM and to disseminate the “Responding to female genital mutilation: A guide for key professionals” brochure produced in the framework of the Change Plus project.
• Equipop (France)
As a partner in the Change Plus project, Equipop has been training Change Agents to raise awareness among their communities and contribute to end the practice of FGM. In October and November, four training sessions took place on communication skills and conflict management, sexual reproductive health and rights, health issues, culture and tradition, and religion. Equipop’s Malian partner, AMSOPT, organized an abandonment ceremony on December the 3rd in the Kayes region. 42 new villages have committed to abandon FGM and early marriages. More than a thousand people were present to celebrate the abandonment of these harmful practices. The ceremony was broadcasted on local TV and radios. Equipop is implementing a new project called Building bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM with two partners, AIDOS and GAMS Belgique, funded by the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme. In the framework of this project, testimonies from migrants were recorded in France and broadcasted during AMSOPT’s abandonment ceremony in Mali. A professional photographer and a journalist have taken pictures and videos of the ceremony and registered testimonies from the communities in order to create a web documentary. Finally, Equipop’s project manager, Aurélie Desrumauxwas interviewed by the network «Stratégies Concertées de lutte contre les mutilations génitales féminines (SC-MGF)» about her work on FGM in Equipop.
• Excision, parlons-en! (France)
Since March 2016, Excision, parlons-en! has been working with the French Ministry of families, childhood and women rights, the Inter Ministerial Mission for women's protection against violence and human trafficking, and a group of experts, on a training kit on the identification and care of minors affected by FGM. The purpose of the booklet and video is to help professionals understand FGM, ask the right questions and help girls at risk of FGM. This booklet, published November 25th on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, is available in French and will soon be available online.
To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism, FORWARD released a short film titled Raising Our Voices against FGM’. The film created by Spirited Pictures highlights the work being done by FORWARD in the UK with youth activists, community women and schools. FORWARD, along with Network member GAMS, just published a new study on men's role in ending FGM, “Men have a role to play but they don’t play it”: A mixed methods study exploring men’s involvement in female genital mutilation (FGM) in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The study was carried out as part of the Men Speak Out project.  
• LebKom (Germany)
In November 2016, the travelling exhibition “Wonder of the Female Body – Female Genital Mutilation in Africa – How to achieve cultural change”, which was developed by Lebendige Kommunikation e.V. (LebKom), arrived to the Town Hall of the university city of Marburg. The exhibition is under the patronage of Councillor Dr. Kerstin Weinbach. Cooperation partners in Marburg were the Equal Opportunities Office, the German Female Doctors Association, Terre des Femmes and the Marburg One-World Shop. The exhibition and guided tours of it attracted lively interest. Presiding over the opening ceremony was the mayor, Dr. Franz Kahle. Professor Dr. Muthgard Hinkelmann-Toewe, CENTER for PROFS, Germany, gave a speech on the fascinating topic: “Innovation from Africa – A new kind of cooperation between gender“. “Listening – Learning – Laughing. Africa, a home with sustainable future” is the title of the 2017 calendar from LebKom. It brightens up anybody’s day with colourful photos, inspiring African sayings and fascinating insights into the work of the FULDA-MOSOCHO-PROJECT for the elimination of female genital mutilation. If would like to order a calendar, you can find more information here.
• Terre des Femmes (Germany)
Terre des Femmes has been training more Change Agents as part of the Change Plus project. Community manager Dr. Idah Nabateregga trained seven CHANGE Agents from different African countries (Somalia, Sudan, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon). In 2017, the Agents will work intensively within their respective communities. On 12th October, the work group of the German Federal NGO against Female Genital Mutilation held its first meeting in two years in the German Ministry of Family Affairs. TDF policy specialist Dr. Idah Nabateregga took part as one of the representatives of the INTEGRA network. Project Coordinator Linda Ederberg was also invited to introduce the two EU-projects “CHANGE Plus” and “United to end FGM”. The representatives of the Ministry of Family Affairs and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees paid close attention to the reported experiences with the projects and will take them into consideration in their daily political work. On 25th and 26th October, Dr. Idah Nabateregga took part in a workshop organised by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Valetta, Malta. She presented prevalence rates, social and religious contexts and risks of FGM as well as reactions of authorities in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. On 22nd November, TDF met with Members of Parliament Gabriela Heinrich  (Deputy speaker on Human Rights of the German Social Democrat Party SPD) and Michaela Engelmeier (designated SPD reporter in the German Committee of Developmental Affairs). The issues discussed included obligatory reporting of FGM or risk of FGM to child protective services, training professionals and mandatory medical check-ups for all children in Germany. 
On the Zero Tolerance Day against FGM on February 6 2017, TDF will organise a symposium in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs. The national launch of the United to End FGM online training platform, in which TDF is a project partner, will also be take place at the same event. In 2017, TDF will also be launching a new book campaign in libraries and bookshops across Germany. By presenting various books on FGM, TDF wants to raise awareness on the issue and encourage active involvement. If you want to participate, ask your local bookshops or library if they would lend some of their presentation space to the subject of FGM. Contact TDF for more information on their list of books.
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