TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Strengthening Community Based Women’s Association to End FGM in South Western Nigeria – 15.08.2019
It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. There are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is mostly performed on 1-day-to 18-year-old females (95% of all FGM cases) which shows how important it is to partner with youths to put an end to it.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as “all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. In other words, it is any procedure that causes injury to the female genitals without medical indication.
The World Health Organization (@WHO), classifies FGM into four broad types, based on the anatomical extent of the procedure: …
Type I (Clitoridectomy): This refers to the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (the fold of skin covering the clitoris). This is also referred to as ‘Sunna’.
Type II (Excision): Removal (in part or whole) of the clitoris and labia minora. The labia majora may or may not be removed.
Type III (Infibulation): Here, the vaginal orifice is narrowed, and a covering seal created by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora. The clitoris may also be removed. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Pharaonic’.
Type IV (Unclassified): Any other harmful procedure performed on the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing and incision of the clitoris and/or labia, stretching and/or cutting of the vagina (‘gishiri’), scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal opening (‘angurya’) and cauterization. It also includes the introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten or narrow the vagina, as well as massaging the clitoris with hot water or petroleum jelly to de-sensitize the clitoris (common in Imo State).
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, 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.
For additional reading on FGM you can visit http://www.who.int and www.endcuttinggirls.org or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=80s
One of the reasons why the practice of FGM has persisted in some communities is because it is a social-taboo and influenced by cultural, tradition and religion. These influences include social pressure to conform to peers, perception of FGM as necessary to raise a girl properly and prepare her for adulthood and marriage e.t.c.
In most FGM practicing communities, the issue of FGM is not an open discussed and this has made most people unaware of the negative consequences of the practice on the health and wellbeing of their girls and women.
Ending a social norm like FGM requires collaboration and capacity building of relevant stakeholders in the community. Asides religious organizations, traditional ruler’s etc. community based women organizations are important to foster the progress of the campaign in reaching out to the community at large.
Community based women’s organization contribute to community revitalization through initiatives and they help represent the interest of their communities.
Women community based organization in the south western Nigeria includes the following: MARKET WOMEN ASSOCIATION, Women play a key role in supporting their households and communities, they are likely to be prime initiator of change and play an important role in facilitating change in a community.
The contribution of women to a society’s transition from pre literate to literate is undeniable. Strengthening the women organization by educating them about the dangers of FGM would ensure a proper spread of information.
The role of women is at the front end of the chain of improvements leading to family/ community change on a long term capacity.
Community based women organizations can help broaden the vision of a campaign when they have the right information and enhance the efficiency of the campaign. It has to do with empowering them with the right information and access to materials.
Transformative capacity building for women community based organization could be achieved by enhancing their skills with a view toward positively changing their condition and position in the society. The importance of community based women organization cannot be over emphasized, as they are deeply recognized and known in the society at large which would in turn help the projection of the campaign.
Women at large serve as the cord that binds a community, giving them access to the proper materials can help them penetrate the community which would also spread the message across families and the community.
Women community based organizations can help with bringing to air the challenges that is faced by women and girls in general at public meetings and ceremonies, also finding a probable solution to the challenges
Community based women organizations have periodic meetings and parties that brings together women from different locale, this is an avenue for issues affecting them to be raised.
Research has shown that when women are empowered to take action positively on issues that affect women and girls often have a positive effect on women and the community.
Women play crucial roles in success of events, organizing programs and encourage other women who rarely participate in events which in turn uplifts other women and help educate them. One of the best attributes of women based community organizations are the process of I information dissemination
In conclusion, strengthening community based women organization would lead to a positive response in the community as they serve as a connection between the community and the family.
TOGETHER WE WILL END FGM IN THIS GENERATION