Good evening all. Welcome to Facebook conference of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change (Phase III).

Today 26th March, 2019 the series of our Facebook conference continues as we look at the roles community stakeholders can help to endcuttinggirls

We will spend some minutes to take you through the discussion before we respond to your questions.

Before we move into our major discussion for today, let’s quickly review some basic information about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons”.

The World Health Organization (WHO), classifies FGM into four broad types, and subgroups, based on the anatomical extent of the procedure, and they are all practices in Nigeria: …

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).

Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.

Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. 

Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.

All types of FGM were documented to occur according to the high rate of FGM is driven by deeply entrenched cultural traditions, values and social norms. Local leaders, government institutions, international and local agencies, religious scholars and grassroots activists have attempted to promote the elimination of FGM with varying degrees of success.

FGM functions as a self-enforcing social convention or social norm. In societies where it is practiced, it is a socially upheld behavioural rule. 

Families and individuals continue to perform FGM because they believe that their community expects them to do so. 

Families further expect that if they do not respect the social rule, they will suffer social consequences such as derision, marginalization and loss of status.  

While FGM is de facto violent, although it is not intended as an act of violence. It is considered to be a necessary step to enable girls to become women and to be accepted, together with the rest of the family, by the social group of which they are part. 

Moreover, the removal of or damage to healthy genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and may cause severe immediate and long-term negative health consequences. 

The risks girls and women might likely encounter through FGM could be immediate and short term or long term and permanent.

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=80s  …

The roles of community stakeholders can’t be over emphasized. There are many community stakeholders in the campaign to end FGM, but we shall focus on Traditional Rulers, Religious leaders, Health Care Practitioners and Teachers.

For us to #endcuttinggirls in this generation, there must be synergy between these groups in our different communities.

The first categories of community stakeholders are the Traditional Rulers and they remain a very significant element in the society that cannot be ignored. Their influence varies enormously across the different cultures and localities of the country.

Their influence even becomes more relevant in this campaign to stamp out a practice which is embedded in tradition. As custodians of tradition, it becomes imperative to have their buy-in if we must succeed. Traditional rulers are the custodian of culture and traditions while in some other part of Nigeria, there are other groups who are seen as the custodian of cultures.

The Traditional rulers and village heads exerts much power and influence when it comes to issues related to culture and Tradition like FGM. The village heads are the leaders of the villages which is one of the smallest units that makes up a community.

Most villages in Nigeria meets monthly, Quarterly or Yearly to discuss some key issues affecting the lives of their people then seek ways to address them if brought to the table of the village leaders and issues like FGM can be discuss at such meetings.

Therefore, the first major point of call to Stop FGM will be, carrying along the rulers and decision makers such as the Kings and regional heads to key into the general effort to Endcuttinggirls.

It is equally important to suggest and promote alternative rites of passage for communities where FGM is carried out as a rite of passage and this can be done with the help of the community leaders.

The community leaders can also help to fast track public declaration in their respective communities.  One of the important roles of these community stakeholders is Public declaration of FGM abandonment is a “formal public ceremonies involving one or more communities-typically villages but increasingly also districts and ethnic groups that take part in an event where they manifest through their representatives, the specific commitment to abandon FGM”.

This is the result of years of awareness creation/sensitization, education/training, and Community Dialogues, Consensus Building and series of activities in the communities. Public Declaration of FGM abandonment reflects the courage of the communities to speak out against almost 2,000 year old practice.

Various activities can be used for focused group (intergenerational discussion) dialogues on #FGM as part of educational partnership to endcuttinggirls

You can watch Videos of  Public Declaration of FGM in different communities via the Following links:


EP 30: FGM Public Declaration in Ekiti State
EP 31: FGM Public Declaration in Oyo State

EP 32: FGM Public Declaration in Osun State

Community stakeholders can also help to strengthen the community systems to monitor FGM and ensure that communities do not return to the practice after declaration.

The second category of community stakeholders are Religious Leaders, because globally, FGM is practiced among some adherents of the Muslim and Christian faith.

The UNF{A/UNICEF Joint Programme on eliminating FGM has been working to enhance the capacity of Religious Leaders (Christian And Muslim) to lead the campaign to end FGM in religious settings in Nigeria.

Religion organizations employ a sophisticated means to pass a message across to different associations under the umbrella of the organization. Also, we cannot underestimate the importance of religion in the society of today.

C.A.N (Christian Association of Nigeria) and J.N.I (Jama’tu Nasril Islam) are two religious umbrella organizations in Nigeria, C.A.N for the Christian religion while J.N.I for the Islamic religion can help in eradicating FGM and these bodies bring together different religious leaders.

Religious leaders (Christian and Muslim) are highly influential persons’ in the community and, therefore, their involvement will help to fast-track FGM total abandonment in Nigeria.

However, FGM is erroneously linked to religion. FGM is not particular to any religious faith, and predates Christianity and Islam. At the community level, those who carry out FGM offer a mix of cultural and religious reasons for the practice.

Christians and Muslims alike erroneously believe that circumcision of girls prevents them from promiscuity and makes them more attractive for future husbands; mothers fear that their daughters cannot get married if they’re uncut.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is not mentioned at all in the Bible and is rejected by Christianity for this reason. Moreover, whereas male circumcision does not mutilate the male sex organ, FGM damages the healthy female sex organ and deforms what God has created.

Christianity also repudiates FGM because of its immediate and long-term adverse health effects and refutes claims that female circumcision protects a girl’s chastity before marriage.  You can learn more about Christianity and FGM by watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhwzcmdi2gU

Also, the association of FGM with Islam has been refuted by many Muslim scholars, who say that FGM contradicts the “Do no Harm” principle of Islam. FGM is not prescribed in the Quran and is contradictory to the teachings of Islam. You can learn more about Islam and FGM by watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27ENTiMkCu4

Because of this flawed linking of FGM to various religions, especially Christianity and Islam, religious leaders have an important role to play in eradicating FGM in their communities.

One of the most importantly roles of Religious leaders should focus on de-linking FGM from religion among their congregations. Based on their influence, it would be easier for religious leaders to drum support from religious faiths against FGM

The third category of community stakeholders are Health Care Practitioners (HCP). They are also important stakeholders also play a vital role in the prevention of FGM by providing health education to patients and/or parents during consultations as their educational background and social status give extra credit to their messages

First, training programs for these professionals, particularly those living in areas where FGM is widely practiced, should focus on what FGM is, why it is practiced, its health impacts, and ways to prevent it. Such trainings must also sensitize health care practitioners to the fact that FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s rights to health and conflicts with the “Do No Harm” principle of medical practice.

It is striking to see that the preventive role of HCP is highly underused. Several studies have identified numerous challenges to the involvement of HCP, particularly in Nigeria, some HCP support FGM or consider it as a sensitive issue and consequently resist working against the practice.

Another challenge is the involvement of HCP in the “Medicalization of FGM”, which is a situation “where the procedure is performed by any category of health professional in any location (hospital, home, etc.)”  People are increasingly turning to health professionals to perform FGM, with the hope that it will reduce the risk of complications. However, “medicalized FGM” does not prevent the long-term health, sexual, psychological and obstetrical complications of FGM.

According to the 2013 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), the number of girls and women who were subjected to FGM by health care professionals were 11.9% and 12.7%, respectively.  In Nigeria, Medicalization of FGM is done mostly by Nurse/midwife; Girls (10.4%) & Women (9.9%) (NDHS 2013)

World Health Organization (WHO) advises that, under no circumstances, should FGM be performed by health professionals.  In addition, International and National Professional and Regulatory bodies of Doctors and Nurses are opposed to FGM.

Medicalization of FGM violates the ethical code governing health practice that requires that health professional should “do no harm”. Medicalization of FGM contributes to upholding the practice, and legitimizes a procedure that is harmful to the health of girls/women.

Whether FGM is performed in hospital or bush, it is still a deliberate damage of healthy organs for non-medical. Health professionals that perform FGM violate girls’ and women’s right to health, life, and physical integrity.

To prevent Medicalization of FGM, we must educate health professionals & remind them of their pledge to “do no harm”.  To prevent Medicalization of FGM, health professionals should resist the pressure from families to carry out FGM. To prevent Medicalization of FGM, health professionals who perform FGM should face professional & legal action.”

UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM is empowering health professionals to become role models and advocates in Nigeria.   The Joint Programme is partnering with the underlisted professional and regulatory bodies to end Medicalization of FGM in Nigeria

Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN),

Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN)

Community Health Practitioners Regulatory Board of Nigeria (CHPRBN)

Society of Gynecologist and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON)

Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN)

National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN – Obstetrics & Gynaecology faculties)

National Association of Community Health Practitioners (NACHP)

Society of Public Health Practitioners of Nigeria (SPHPN)

Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN)

Association of Medical Officers of Health in Nigeria (AMOHN)

National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM

The fourth category of community stakeholders are Teachers. They are also important stakeholders in different communities because of their vast knowledge on different issues, they are well respected and they have direct contact with the children from the communities.

Teachers can help to educate and model the communities on why FGM should be stopped.

Teachers can use their position as teachers and their influence on the curricula of schools to help the campaign to reach a wider audience.

As we champion this campaign to end FGM, let us also remember that we have a duty to protect the girl-child and woman from harmful traditional practices. Therefore, you and I need to become advocates to #endcuttinggirls in this generation.

In conclusion, the community stakeholders have important roles in putting an end to FGM in this generation and it’s important that they become advocates in the #endFGM campaign.

At this juncture, I will welcome questions and contributions.

To learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign to end FGM, please visit http://www.endcuttinggirls.org  and follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls #Endcuttinggirls.