In February this year, the Canadian Minister for International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau announced that Global Affairs Canada will provide $3 million in funding to Forum member Cuso International for the development and implementation of a program to help fight against gender-based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM) in northern Benin.
The project is a partnership between Cuso International, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Benin Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Affairs, as well as with local implementing partners, Equi-Filles and APEM, both of which are leading feminist organisations in Benin. The three-year project is expected to support 57,000 young girls, as well as female survivors of sexual violence, leaders from civil society, and health and education professionals.
Gender-based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM) remain shockingly widespread. According to the World Health Organization, FGM affects over 200 million girls and women in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The goal of the project will be to transform social and cultural norms by proposing alternative models to traditional rites of passage. Through leadership workshops and trainings, awareness campaigns and providing technical assistance, Cuso International and its volunteers will help decrease the frequency of gender-based violence and female genital mutilation.
Improving outcomes for women and girls has been at the heart of Cuso International’s work for over 55 years. As Cuso International CEO, Glenn Mifflin puts it, “Our focus is, and has been, on supporting women and girls overcome obstacles to leading healthy and equitable lives. With this support from the Government of Canada, Cuso International will be able to help change the story on gender-based violence and female genital mutilation for thousands of girls and women in northern Benin.”