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 Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM into 4 types. WHO classifies FGM into four categories with subdivisions.  

FGM Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The 2 subdivisions are, FGM Type Ia: removal of the prepuce/clitoral hood (circumcision) and FGM Type Ib: removal of the clitoris with the prepuce  

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

The 3 subdivisions are ofFGM Type II are; FGM Type IIa: removal of the labia minora only; FGM Type IIb: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; and FGM Type IIc: partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora

FGM Type III: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the 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).

The 2 subdivisions are,FGM Type IIIa: removal and a positioning the labia minora with or without excision of the clitoris; and FGM Type IIIb: removal and a positioning the labia majora with or without excision of the clitoris

Type 4 Unclassified; refers to all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, including cauterization, pulling, incision, piercing, pricking, and scrapping for non-medical reasons.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with or at risk of suffering the associated negative health consequences of FGM

Every year 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to the potential negative health consequences of this harmful practice. FGM has no known health benefits, and those girls and women who have undergone the procedure are at great risk of suffering from its complications throughout their lives.  

The procedure of FGM is painful and traumatic, and is often performed under unsterile conditions by a traditional practitioner who has little knowledge of female anatomy or how to manage possible adverse events.  

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 practice of FGM is prevalent in 30 countries in Africa and in a few countries in Asia and the Middle East, but also present across the globe due to international migration  

FGM practice is deeply rooted in a strong cultural and social framework. It is endorsed by the practicing community and is supported by loving parents who believe that undergoing FGM is in the best interest of their daughter.  

The beliefs sustaining the practice of FGM vary greatly from one community to another, although there are many common themes. However, the primary reason is that it is part of the history and cultural tradition of the community.  

Despite its cultural importance, we need to acknowledge the fact that FGM is a harmful traditional practice that violates the rights of girls and women.  Therefore, FGM has to be eliminated.  

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

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.

For more information about FGM you can visit httpshttps://www.who.int://www.who.int or watch 

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 young girls as #EndFGM change agents. In some communities, girl and 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.

Empowering young girls 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 (Girls and women) 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 girls can receive accurate information.  

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

Young girls should be trained intensively to make sure they have the necessary information needed to be an End FGM change agent.

When young girls 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 information 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.

How then do we empower young girls in the effort to ?

i. Promote, design and implement projects and programmes that take into account the role of young girls in contributing to the abandonment of FGM in the communities.

ii. As FGM is a social norm, we must also take into consideration the social function it serves within the communities and the importance of alternatives to the social expectations, if needed.

iii. Develop a policy framework on violence against women and girls which includes FGM and mainstream the issue in existing internal and external policies in the communities.

iv. Explore the linkages between FGM and other forms of Gender Based Violence, including child marriage.

As stated earlier FGM is regarded as a form of gender based violence (GBV) and is also a violation of human rights, young girls should be well equipped with necessary information about FGM.

The past campaigns to end FGM have been focused mainly on older women and men so as to prevent the incidence of FGM. But in the future, we would highly recommend that be actively young girls be carried along in the campaign and their enlightenment should be made a priority just like the enlightenment of older people (Women and Men) is. .

The past campaign has also witness the involvement of young men, there should be more involvement of young girls, for they are the most affected by impact of FGM.  

As part of the efforts to empower young Girls as #endFGM change agents in Nigeria, The Output 2 of the joint programme result framework is toStrengthened girls’ and women’s assets and capabilities to exercise their rights”

The UNJP supports capacity building skills for girls–educated or not–based on competencies, and through comprehensive sexual education programs, professional development and programs of “Girl Club’s”  

The aim of the capacity building is to integrate FGM in the life skills of girls with the objective of making them agents of change in their families and their communities.

Currently these capacity building workshop has taken place in most of the UNJP pilot communities.  

Capacity building programmes for Girls in and out of school is currently going in the joint programme Pilot states (#Osun, #Ekiti, #Ebonyi, #Imo, and #Oyo)

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

In conclusion, young girls are major stakeholders in the fight against FGM and must be empower as End FGM change agents.