Highlighting the global commitment to eliminate all forms of FGM by 2030 (target 5.3 of the SDG5) and enumerating the on-going efforts to accelerate the progress towards this target in Nigeria- Anthonia Okoli
Highlighting the global commitment to eliminate all forms of FGM by 2030 (target 5.3 of the SDG5) and enumerating the on-going efforts to accelerate the progress towards this target in Nigeria
FGM/C is a practice that involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM/C has no known health benefit; it is painful and traumatic, with immediate and long-term health consequences. Globally, about 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM/C. FGM/C is declining in the majority of countries where it is prevalent. But a high rate of population growth in these countries means that the number of girls at risk will continue to scale up. To promote the abandonment of FGM/C, it is necessary to accelerate efforts towards abandonment. Efforts must engage whole communities and focus on human rights and gender equality. They must also address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences. UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM.
The programme currently focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a human rights issue that affects girls and women worldwide. It physically and psychologically damages girls and women, as such, its elimination is a global concern. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a milestone resolution; calling on the international community to intensify efforts to end the practice.
In September 2015, the global community agreed to a new set of SDGs. SDGs are aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. These cannot be accomplished without SDG 5, which aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. Target 5.3 of SDG5: Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and FGM/C by 2030. This target signifies the political will of the international community and national partners
To work together to accelerate action towards a total, and final, end of FGM/C, laws are being enacted and enforced against FGM/C across countries. Interestingly, African countries are taking the lead in these global efforts. The African Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa calls explicitly for prohibition and condemnation of FGM/C.
In Kenya prevalence rates have dropped considerably. From 32% in 2003 to 27% in 2008-9 and then to 21% in 2014. Kenya has constituted an anti-FGM Board and an anti-FGM Unit under the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In Egypt, the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme partnered with a theatre group to produce street performances about FGM/C. The plays reached 6,000 people in 120 performances in 2014.
In Ethiopia, 40 justice professionals participated in a two-day consultation on FGM/C. The Government of Ethiopia’s national coordination body is now responsible for FGM/C and child marriage
In 2014, public awareness of the harm caused by FGM/C increased in Burkina Faso. And efforts to promote its elimination were reported in the media, this included 189 interactive radio programmes.
In Eritrea, 26 officers at the Ministry of Health were trained to develop anti-FGM/C messages, which they produced for print media, radio and TV. An open TV discussion, including former excisers, was aired in four episodes. And a TV educational programme was broadcast on FGM/C facilitated by health, law and human rights professionals.
The strategic involvement of the media in Uganda led to increased coverage of FGM/C events and activities in 2014. This included 21 radio talk shows on FGM/C, 6 TV programmes, and more than 21 articles in print media.
In 2014, the UK Girl’s Summit launched global commitments to end FGM/C and child, early and forced marriage.
The Girl Generation is using social change communication initiative to galvanise further change to end FGM/C.
In the US, Equality Now and Safe Hands for Girls co-hosted a US End FGM/C Summit in December 2016
In Nigeria, legislations are in place banning FGM/C. The VAPP Act passed into law in 2015 bans FGM/C. The UNFPA/UNICEF Joint programme trained about 30 youths in November 2015 in Nigeria as social media advocates. These advocates have held Twitter conferences every Thursday since then and are on other social media platforms. These young media advocates are currently in Enugu for a refresher training
The joint programme focuses efforts on four states, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo and Osun. Some projects happening in these states are Intergenerational dialogue to bride gap between age grades towards ending FGM. And training of community champions to educate other community members on the need for FGM/C abandonment.
The frown challenge, a MEET MEDIA/UNICEF project challenge encourages Nigerians home and abroad to frown at FGM. Participants will take a photograph of themselves with a self-made placard with #endcuttinggirls boldly written on it. And make sure to give their best frown. 20000 such photographs will be posted on line to campaign against female genital mutilation.
It is encouraging to see sustained focus and better global and local collaboration on #FGM across sectors and countries. These wouldn’t be possible to achieve without the efforts of committed individuals and grassroot organizations.
We are accelerating efforts, TOGETHER towards total abandonment of #FGM, through change in social behaviour and norms.