Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriage Stem From Gender Inequality, Panel Says

A July 18 panel discussion co-hosted by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems on Capitol Hill. (Photo from Facebook)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) hosted a panel Wednesday afternoon in the Rayburn House building to hear from people actively working to end harmful practices against women around the world.

The series of briefings explores elements of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number five, “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls Everywhere.”

The panel included Rachel Clement, policy advocate for the International center for Research on Women, Mónica De Pinto Ribeiro Hancke, Gayatri Patel, senior policy advocate for Gender and Empowerment on the Government Relations team at CARE USA and Dr. Gabrielle Bardall, senior gender specialist at IFES.The panelists all work for organizations that are actively attempting to end harmful practices, that they called human rights violations, to mend the world-wide gender inequality.

The harmful practices discussed in this briefing included the early and forced marriage of children and female genital mutilation and cutting (FGMC).

According to IFES president and CEO William Sweeney, these practices contribute to barriers women face politically.

All of the panelists emphasized the need of the U.S. government to invest in the initiatives their organizations advocate to stop FGMC and child marriage. The organizations travel around the world to places that have a prevalence of these practices to talk to these communities and educate them.

The organizations also work to promote policies to ban these practices and promote education and political activism among young women, Clement said.

“We really have to look at FGM and child marriage as a symptom and perpetuation of gender inequality,” Patel said.

Another suggestion brought up by the panel was increased education for women around the world. Parents who obtain a higher level of education are less likely to have their daughters married at a young age, Clement said

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