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States Call For End To Female Genital Mutilation


New York, Nov 9 2005 10:00AM

A United Nations-backed conference of ministers from nearly 50 Islamic countries and representatives of more than 20 international, Arab and Islamic organizations has called for an end to harmful traditional practices including child marriage, female genital mutilation, and gender discrimination in education.

A declaration issued at the end of The First Islamic Ministerial Conference on the Child, co-organized by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), also urged action to address the unacceptably high rates of child and maternal mortality in some Islamic countries.

“UNICEF is privileged to have been part of the dynamic process that has led to such a strong Declaration - a Declaration that addresses head-on all of the major challenges confronting children in OIC countries and does so in a way that calls for action to be supported by ever greater Islamic solidarity,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah told the closing session in Rabat, Morocco, yesterday.

“We look forward to continuing this important work with our valued partners – the OIC and ISESCO,” she added. The declaration will be submitted to the next meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers and the next Islamic Summit, for adoption and support.

The more than 200 participants expressed a shared sense of alarm over the dire situation for children in many Islamic countries, where some 4.3 million youngsters under five die each year from preventable disease and malnutrition, and stressed the need for an urgent collective response commensurate with the challenges.

A further 6 million children under five suffer from malnutrition, about 23 per cent of the total population have no access to safe drinking water, and 45 per cent lack adequate sanitation. Children in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, are facing a life-threatening crisis as a consequence of armed conflict, HIV/AIDS and poverty.

OIC Member States account for a quarter of the world’s 2.3 billion children - in nations spanning Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Enabling these children to live and thrive and to reach their full potential, while respecting and nurturing Islamic values, including tolerance, solidarity, and protection of the vulnerable, is critical not only for the future of their countries but for the entire world, participants said.

The conference was characterized by frank and open discussions, with participants sharing successful experiences in overcoming difficult challenges, including many of the harmful traditional practices that are often falsely associated with Islam, including child marriage, female genital mutilation and gender discrimination in education, according to UNICEF.

2005-11-09 00:00:00.000

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