Crown Princess of Denmark visited programmes supporting girls and women in Afar Region

17 February 2015

A delegation led by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark today paid a visit to the Afar Region of Ethiopia to see programmes supported by UNFPA  on the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.

She was able to see efforts undertaken by different community members at the abandonment of the two harmful practices and also institutional responses at mitigating complications. Crown Princess Mary was accompanied by the Danish Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation, Mr. Mogens Jensen.

In the first leg of her visit, she met different community members at a locality in the Afambo District and observed community dialogues involving different sectors of the community on the abandonment of FGM and child marriage and adolescent girls' club discussions. This intervention which aims at integrating efforts at the abandonment of FGM and child marriage is under implementation for the past two years in seven localities in the Afambo District and is coordinated by the Bureau of Women, Children and Youth Affairs of the Afar Region.  Woizero Zahara Humed, Head of the Bureau of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, gave an overall briefing to the delegation. Crown Princess Mary interacted with different community members and appreciated the efforts being undertaken to abandon the harmful practices and empower girls and women.

The Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey of 2011puts the median age at first marriage for the Afar Region as the third lowest in the country. Moreover, despite the progresses made in recent years, the prevalence of FGM remains very high in the Region. According to the 2011 Welfare Monitoring Survey the prevalence of FGM/C is highest in the Region at 60 per cent.  But six districts in the Region in which the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Accelerated Abandonment of FGM is being implemented have publicly declare abandonment of the practice since the initiative was launched in 2008.

In the second leg of her visit, Crown Princess Mary was taken to the Barbara May Maternity Hospital in Mille District where she observed services being provided by the hospital at tackling complications resulting from FGM and child marriage. She was given a tour of the facilities of the hospital by Valerie Browning - Head of the Afar Pastoralist Development Association which is running the hospital - and the medical staff of the hospital. It was indicated during the visit that the hospital which has been operational since 2011 is providing life-saving delivery services and treating obstetric complications created by FGM.  Crown Princess Mary also got the chance to interact with patients during her visit to the hospital.

Crown Princess Mary admired the commitment of the Afar Region in tackling the challenges of FGM and child marriage when she met Awel Arba, Vice President of the Afar Region, later in the day. She appreciated the support being provided by UNFPA and UNICEF. The Vice President assured the Crown Princess that his Region was keen in continuing efforts at improving the lives of girls and women and remarked that his Region looked forward to support from Denmark.

The visit was jointly organized by the Embassy of Denmark, UNFPA, and UNICEF.