Raise your voice to #endFGM

At least 200 million girls and women alive today around the world have undergone some form of female genital mutilation (FGM). If current trends continue, 15 million more girls could be affected by 2030.

On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation raise your voice to #endFGM.

While there has been an overall decline in the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) across countries, this progress is likely to be offset by rapid population growth in countries where FGM occurs, unless efforts to eliminate the practice are renewed in light of recent research, and urgently stepped up.

A 2016 report of the UN Secretary-General showed that the single largest factor influencing the continuation of FGM is the desire for social acceptance and avoidance of social stigma. The social norms, customs and values that condone FGM are multi-faceted, vary across countries and even between communities, and can change over time. This presents a powerful and complex challenge for all those engaged in the effort to end FGM.

We have witnessed how the powerful personal testimony and advocacy of activists such as Jaha Dukureh in The Gambia can bring increased understanding of the issues to local communities and amplify the voices of a growing movement calling upon leaders to put an end to this practice.  In Western Kenya FGM rates among younger girls is going up: Janet Anyango talks about what it will take to root out the practice.

The collection and analysis of data is crucial to better tailor our interventions in light of the specific factors associated with the practice globally.  Further research is needed in areas outside Africa, as FGM is also prevalent in Latin America, South-East Asia and areas of the Middle East, as well as now being present in the United States and United Kingdom. We must pay greater attention to the risks associated with migration and the greater movement between borders. Women and girls are still extremely vulnerable, even in countries which are not traditionally associated with the practice of FGM, if families on the move maintain the practice.

Legal structures are only part of the solution; they must be complemented by multiple prevention strategies, for example mobilizing communities, and influencing social norm change, and engaging those who can bring about those changes, such as men and boys, civil society and faith-based leaders. In Somalia, the Y-PEER network has helped mobilize young people, including young men to discuss sensitive issues, such as female genital mutilation.

FGM is inextricably linked with other forms of gender inequality, such as violence against women and girls, and other harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriages. To accelerate progress towards ending FGM, UN Women continues to work with governments, local administrations and civil society partners to address the root causes that perpetuate unequal power relations between women and men, and also with sister agencies, such as UNICEF and UNFPA, on their long-standing campaigns. Together, we must keep this issue at the forefront of the human rights agenda.

Read the statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, on the occasion of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation


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