Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Empowering Secondary School Students as EndFGM Advocates” 18.10.2018

FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15years. This is one of the reasons why we are focusing on Empowering Secondary School Students to

It is worrisome to note that, at least 200 million girls and women have experienced FGM in 30 countries across three continents of the world. While over 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk of FGM annually.

The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths.

The reasons why female genital mutilations are performed vary from one region to another and include a mix of sociocultural factors within families and communities.

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It is also a violation of the right to life when the procedure results in death.

In some communities, women who have not undergone FGM are not allowed to handle food and water because they are perceived to be unclean, and seen as posing a health risk to others.

Femininity and modesty is also one of the reasons why FGM is performed. In some societies, a woman is perceived to be cleaner and more beautiful if her genitals are cut. Some body parts, such as the clitoris, which protrudes, are seen as male and unclean.

Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types.

Type 1: Clitoridectomy, Type 2: Excision, Type 3: Infibulation, Type 4: All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia e.g. pricking, piercing, incising. For more information, please visit www.endcuttinggirls.org

FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

Generally speaking, the risks associated with FGM increase with increasing severity of the procedure.

Immediate complications can include: severe pain, excessive bleeding (haemorrhage), genital tissue swelling, fever, infections e.g., tetanus, urinary problems etc.

Long-term consequences can include: urinary problems (urinary tract infections); vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis); menstrual problems (difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.); scar tissue and keloid etc.

Building on work from previous decades, in 1997, WHO issued a joint statement against the practice of FGM together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The UN Joint programme on eliminating FGM has partnered with different school clubs to end FGM. This has enabled us to reach out directly to the students, and has had a multiplier effect on this campaign.

Empowering Secondary School Students as EndFGM Advocates especially by leveraging on existing school club will help sustain the campaign and will help us reach more people.

Secondary school students are usually within the age bracket of 11-18years. This age as we all know is one in which the teenager is faced with a lot of opinions and decisions on what kind of adult they’d be.

Empowering students with adequate information will help to shape their attitudes and influence their future behaviour towards the abandonment of FGM.

One of the key things that we must first understand about empowerment is that it begins with education, empowering any individual starts with educating them first.

Topics around FGM should be integrated into formal/non-formal education. The inclusion of this topic would make it less of a taboo and young people can receive accurate information.

This would in turn help break the culture of silence around FGM and other harmful traditional practices (HTPs).

Some other strategies for empowering secondary school students to resist FGM include the following

  • Training the members of existing school clubs, health, press, debate, etc. to integrate FGM into their regular club activities
  •  These students should be trained intensively to make sure they have the necessary information needed to train other teenagers like them.

Statistics show that at least 60% of teenagers in Nigeria have access to the internet and have social media accounts.

We can use this number to an advantage by training teenagers on using social media and other communication devices as tools for advocacy. This would enable them to create a large scale of social transformation.

Another strategy we can employ is the training the teachers in secondary schools. First to educate young people, support those at risk of undergoing or have already undergone FGM.

And also monitor the activities of these students would also help to ensure that these trainings are not over their heads.

In the 5 focus states where the UN Joint Programme is taking place in Nigeria, the UNICEF-trained Youth Social media advocates trained some students from different school clubs as advocates in 2017.

The secondary school sensitization program across the 5 focus states brought so much revelations and testimonies that only emphasize the need to empower more secondary school students.

Currently, in Ebonyi State, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is implementing another phase of UNICEF-Nigeria supported programs on partnering with school clubs to

The schools where this programmes were held see the campaign to #endFGM campaign as part of their responsibilities

  • Meet the students of Comprehensive secondary school, Ebonyi State during one of our trainings on partnering with secondary school clubs.
  • Meet the Leaders of different school clubs from Plato Secondary School, Izhia, Ohaukwu L.G.A Ebonyi State

Apart from HIV activities that they are known for, FGM related activities also form part of their activity plan every term.

The students meet weekly to discuss the activities they carried out in their various clubs to end   

The schools reports to their Zonal board while the Zonal board reports to the social media advocates

During their club meetings, they educate their peers about FGM and share new discoveries they’ve made about the issue  

Some of their activities includes: class-by-class sensitisation, presentation during moral instruction/Assembly talk, debate, quiz competition e.t.c.

Because of the competitive nature of their activities, this motivates them to research and question their parents about the practice

The information they receive from their parents about FGM, are discussed in their meetings for clarification

Meet the leaders of different School clubs from Students of Science Secondary School Ikirun, Osun State after a training session with them (image3)

Meet the leaders of different School clubs from the popular Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti -State after a training with them (image4)

Members also share how they convinced their parents to see FGM/C as harmful to the girl child and women

To achieve a total abandonment of FGM, we need to explore this option the option of partnering with different Secondary School clubs as advocates  

If we can identify such school clubs in other states and build their capacities, we are good to #endFGM in this generation.

When students are trained on what they believe and understand the impact of their voices, they can represent their families and communities with pride, courage and ability.

Proof of this can be seen in Ebonyi state when a teenager, Njideka and two other girls, stood their ground on not undergoing FGM because of the education she had received in in School and the Church. Njideka’s stance led to a public declaration of the abandonment of FGM by some communities in the Izzi Clan of Ebonyi State. The report is captured in the UN Joint Programme report of Phase II [BCM1] 

When empowerment programs like the sensitization of different schools is deliberately created as a strategy for social change, then we can be assured of positive changes sooner than later.

Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our website www.endcuttinggirls.org and kindly follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms. 

Thanks for joining us today, kindly re-tweet this trend, we will respond to your questions now.

Together we will end FGM/C in this generation

 [BCM1]Can you attach the report?