The Girl Summit took place on 22nd July, fittingly, in a school with a student population from diverse backgrounds in South East London. The Summit aimed to mobilise efforts to end female genital mutilation / cutting (FGM/C) and child and forced marriage (CFM) within a generation. The RCS wrote a blog before the summit, questioning whether it would address the root causes of gender inequality; cautioning about a focus on success to the detriment of rigorous engagement with the difficult task in hand; and stating that it will take more than a generation to emancipate 51% of the world’s population. Having now attended the summit, we discuss what was achieved on the day, and what comes next:
The summit was well-attended, with many countries, NGOs, youth, civil society and faith leaders represented. Speakers included Hina Jilani of The Elders; The Rt. Hon. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Malala Yousafzai; and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon among others. The British government was also well represented, with David Cameron, PM; Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development; Nick Clegg, Vice PM; and Theresa may, Home Secretary, all present. Space was given to young people to engage positively with all present – with the Youth Panel contributing a statement for action following the #Youth For Change day. Interspersed with the plenary sessions were two ‘Spotlight Sessions’, where experts came together to discuss specific areas of work, and share learning and ideas. Importantly, the day was very outcome focused, with many stakeholders publically contributing commitments. These commitments are available for all to see on the Girl Summit website.
The Royal Commonwealth Society has also made commitments, which are as follows:
- Following the Girl Summit, the RCS commits to continue to work to raise awareness in Commonwealth countries about the need to end CFM; to advocate to end CFM at key international meetings; and to facilitate shared learning within the Commonwealth on what works to end CFM
- The RCS commits to framing the issues of CFM, and FGM/C, within the broader context of gender inequality in our research and advocacy work
- The RCS commits to work with young people to facilitate greater action within youth networks to raise awareness of and challenge gender inequality, including CFM, FGM/C, and perceptions of masculinity and femininity
- To enable these actions, the RCS has dedicated further resources and funding to this area of our work over the next two years, with the support of the Government of Canada
Our commitments reflect the fact that we view CFM and FGM/C as consequences of deep-rooted negative social norms. We are committed to working to challenge these root causes of gender inequality which lead not only to CFM, FGM/C, but to a host of other human rights abuses.
A positive outcome of the Girl Summit was the commitment from the Department for International Development to set up a team that will monitor whether stakeholders are achieving what they have committed to. This will ensure accountability on the part of governments and non-governmental organisations. A strong focus on outcomes will ensure that the Girl Summit was only the start point in a long and focused journey towards the goal of ending child marriage and female genital mutilation / cutting in a generation.