Last February, 14th in Toledo the final conference of AFTER project has been hosted by the prestigious spaces of University Castilla La Mancha. After a quick press conference where the main partners and hosts of the event released key messages of the day, the conference was opened by local authorities: Araceli Martínez, Director of the Woman Institute of Castilla-La Mancha and José Luis Martinez Guijarro, First Vice President of the Government of Castilla-La Mancha have placed the event in the framework of women’s empowerment and gender equality battle that both the institutions they represent chose as a priority of their action. Ángeles Díaz, Simetrías International Foundation introduced as well Ana Carretero, Vice-Rector UCLM and Beatrice Costa, Head of Programmes of ActionAid Italy, leading partner of the project, who outlined the legacy of AFTER as a concrete initiative of international and European dialogue on gender issues.
The first plenary session – moderated by Carmen Bachiller, Journalist of “eldiario.es” – saw the participation of Patricia Fernández de Castro, Faculty of Social Sciences, Talavera de la Reina, UCLM that together with Chiara Fattori, Project Manager of AFTER, presented the project, its research and recommandations. An opportunity for comparison among local dimension of FGM and local action against them was offered by the presentations of Inga-Maj Andersson, Programme Officer, The National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden and by the interventions of Diana De Marchi, Town Councilor of Milan, President of the Equal Opportunities and Civil Rights Commission and Angelica Vasile, Town Councilor of Milan, President of the Social Policies, Services for Health and Volunteering Commission together with Silvia Buabent Vallejo, Concejala de Igualdad del Ayuntamiento de Fuenlabrada, Madrid. All speeches were useful to see the most advanced contexts and recent efforts to improve institutional response to the issuem as well as key concerns such as lack of stable funding for prevention and training.
A second plenary session was animated by Orla Ryan, Journalist “Journal” Ireland that firstly introduced Giulia D’Aguanno, AFTER project local coordinator in Rome, who thorugh screening of picks and a personal analysis gave feedback of the empowerment paths conducted with women and man of migrant communities. William Jallah, Director at the Bureau of Customs & Culture Affairs, Ministry of internal Affairs of Liberia, drove the audience to an African country where FGM practice is contrasted among the others working with communities and traditional schools. Chiara Cosentino, Policy & Advocacy Officer, shared the experience of End FGM European Network that in Europe builds bridges between national experiences and north / south dialoge in an effort of cooperation at international level. Fana Habteab, from Sweden was key to communicate the experience of Champions for Change network. After lunch break Eterio Ortega, Film Director of Respect for change briefly introduced the screening of “Girls from Earth” Documentary, that was appreciated by the audience.
The afternoon work groups gave the opportunity to in-depth discussions around Exchange of Methodologies and Experiences for Empowerment and for Campaigning (group 1) and Public and Private Actors and their Relationship with Public Services (Group 2). Concrete tools of engagement and sensitatision were presented and discussed; challenges around funding, legal implementation and technical training needs were brought to attention by experts, local officials and community facilitators.
Conclusions were led by Hana Al-Khamri, from ActionAid Sweden together with final remarks offered by Vicenta Rodriguez, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Talavera de la Reina of UCLM, Angeles Díaz and Inmaculada Herranz, Regional Councilor of the Guarantees Plan, Government of Castilla La Mancha.
The day has been considered by partners a success both in terms of participation (more than 150 attendants) and for the quality of discussion and interest raised among technical community, NGO and associations, local institutions.