Good evening everyone, we welcome you to today’s edition of the UNICEF Nigeria supported Facebook conference designed to Female Genital Mutilation. This Facebook conference is part of a multidisciplinary approach to eliminate the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in this generation in line with the global goals #endcuttinggirls.

This conference is a unique one as it marks the Global celebration of Children’s Day. It will last for an hour where we will discuss practical ways to end FGM by enhancing the roles of children and young people and we will give room for questions at the end of the conference. Please feel free to share the event or tag your friends to participate. #endcuttinggirls

In 1997, World Health Organisation (WHO) defined Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as 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. #endcuttinggirls. The process is classified into four (4) types. They are (i). Clitoridectomy, (ii) Excision, (iii) Infibulation and (iv) Unclassified.

Type 1: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (clitoridectomy).

Type 2: partial or total removal of & clitoris and & labia minora, with or without excision of & labia majora (excision).

Type 3: narrowing of & vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning of labia minora and/or & labia majora, with or without excision of & clitoris (infibulation).

Type 4: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. For more on types, myths, facts and what we are doing to #endcuttinggirls, please visit

W.H.O puts the number of girls and women who have undergone one form of FGM or more at 200 Million and another 2 million at annual risk of undergoing the process. This staggering number is not only a cause for concern but a call to action #endcuttinggirls. It is then advantageous that efforts are synergised, strategies reviewed and approaches redefined to not only prevent new incidences but to also provide succour to survivors. #endcuttinggirls

To ensure that all approaches adopted do not set the people against one another, there’s a need for an all-encompassing strategy to eliminate female genital mutilation. Identification and eventual adoption of such strategy will be a product of a no-holds-barred discussion that will break mythical barriers around the practice #endcuttinggirls

To thoroughly deal with a problem at hand, all parts contributing to the cause must be identified and responded to accordingly; and for FGM, the culture of silence has been its greatest trick. Culture of silence refers to the behavior of a selected group of people by unspoken rules to not mention, acknowledge enough to discuss a subject, for either positive reasons, or in avoidance of negative outcomes #endcuttinggirls          

The Culture of Silence is the unseen gag, the invisible mask and the untold tales surrounding acts like FGM in our society. It’s usually formed on norms, cultural beliefs and myths to ward people off an issue. As such, the issue is left unattended in public and becomes accepted as a part of the people’s culture, grows steadily and becomes a sin to ask questions about it. #endcuttinggirls

To break such culture and set the people affected by such free, there is a need to identify the sets of people affected by this culture of silence and identify unique ways to engage, renew their mindsets and ensure they speak when such occurrences take place. Various groups of persons have been identified such as women, children, teenagers, youths etc some of who are directly or indirectly affected.

Following our topic today, we will be discussing on practical ways and strategies to enhance the role of children and young people to ensure this culture of silence is broken. This will further strengthen them and make them understand their roles we look forward to making FGM history soonest. #endcuttinggirls

To enhance the role of these children, we should;

1. Create awareness by highlighting the harmful health implications of FGM to children nd young people in communities where it is practiced, and explaining that girl children who do not undergo FGM grow up to be healthy women and no less female than girls who undergo FGM, would go a long way is changing the mind-set of these set of individuals and enable speak up against such practice.

2. Engaging schools and religious leaders: To end FGM in Nigeria, we would need to engage the right set of people who frequently speak to these children. Engaging with schools and religious leaders in communities where this practice is on the increase will disseminate the information of the harmful effect of this practice and enable them speak up when necessary. This is because Nigeria is made up of highly developed and diversified religious groups and much religious leaders are given enormous respect and weight by the children or young persons in general.

3. Training of Trainers: There are different age ranges of children and young persons, the mature young people who have been trained can go directly into schools and talk to students, especially girls, about the dangers of FGM. Since it is girls who are affected, such visits should be led by a young female, or perhaps even a female victim of FGM who could share her personal experience.

Experiences like that of a young girl like Chituru (not real name), a 19-year-old girl from Imo state, Nigeria, can connect on an interpersonal level with other female girls/teenagers.

Here is Chituru’s story:

When I was 9 years old, I went to stay with my grandmother in the village for the holidays. On the third night of my stay, she took me to an elderly woman’s house where I was asked to remove my underwear, lie down and spread my legs. I was afraid but grandma assured me that it was going to be fine. Grandma held my hands and the other woman brought out a razor blade and started cutting. I shouted in pain but grandma held me firmly so I couldn’t break free. I was crying and bleeding but grandma held me still. When the other woman was done, grandma carried me home. I could not walk for days and when I asked her why I was made to go through such painful process, she replied that it was a necessary cultural practice to make me a woman and prevent me from being promiscuous.

4. With adequate training, these young persons need to seek government support in other to champion this cause. They need the government’s support and strong political commitment to enact strict penalties for those who still practice FGM. This has already begun. Goal 3 of the post 2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs) says that government at all levels must ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for their citizens, including any practice that negatively affects the health of her citizens, such as FGM. SDG goal 5 also seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, an ending FGM is a critical starting point. Young people can lead the way in tackling development, gender, and health issues, and they can lead the way to ending the practice of FGM.

Generally, children and young people have an important role to play in the FGM Elimination campaign. Their roles can be categorized as Peer Educators, Advocates, Change Agents, Educators, Reporters, etc.

This unique 27th May (Children’s Day) is a day to engage, enlighten, educate, encourage and enhance the roles of children and young people to ensure FGM becomes obsolete in no distance time.

Thank you all for joining our conference, to learn more about the EndCuttingGirls Social Media Campaign, and other discussions around FGM, follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls. #endcuttinggirls