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

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are all practiced 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.

FGM has short terms and long term effects on the health and well-being of girls and women. Short term effects of FGM include: severe pain, excessive bleeding, shock, genital tissue swelling, infections, while the long term effects include chronic genital infections, urinary tract infections, painful urination, keloids, perinatal risks, etc.

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM  practice violates women and girls’ rights to health, security and physical integrity, rights to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and rights to life (when the procedure results in death)

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

FGM practice is strongly rooted in the people’s culture and so, it has not been an easy task in getting people to abandon the practice despite the harmful effects on girls and women. It is estimated that about 200 million girls/women have undergone FGM and about 3 million girls/women per year are at risk.  Unless action to end FGM is accelerated, another 68 million girls will have been cut by 2030 (Antonio Guterres – UN Sec. Gen.)

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2016-17) revealed that 18.4% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 27% (2011).  Conversely, the FGM prevalence among daughters (0-14 years) rose from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-17). 

Girls and women living with have experienced a harmful practice and should be provided quality health care, while those at risk should be protected from being subjected to this harmful procedure.

The “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM: Accelerating Change” is being implemented to end FGM in 16 countries including Nigeria.  It commenced in 2008, while Nigeria joined in 2014. Phase III began in Jan. 2018 and will end by Dec. 2021.

The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM is playing a mammoth role in achieving Target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices by 2030, under Goal 5 of the SDGs.

In Nigeria, one of the strategies adopted by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating Change” is partnering with Community based Associations to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Community Based Association is a public or private non-profit organization that is representative of a community or a significant segment of a community and works to meet community needs. Examples are Community Women Associations, Youth Associations, Age Grade Associations, Association of Custodian of Cultures and traditions and Market Women Associations etc. 

Different Community Based Associations usually meet on specific occasions or at least monthly or weekly to discuss developmental issues affecting their communities.  These groups are referred to as Community Based Associations.

Community Based Associations are typically, and almost necessarily, staffed by local members -community members who experience firsthand needs within their neighborhoods.

Community Based Associations is representative of a community or a significant segment of a community and works to meet community needs.

Since they are so localized, Community Based Associations they will understand the issues surrounding FGM in the community they operate.

One of the best features of a Community Based Associations, due to their localized focus, is that it is they will have wealth of information regarding the issues like FGM.

Community Based Associations can engage communities in multiple ways, this include “having an open dialogue with the community, will increase awareness on the effects and consequences of Female Genital Mutilation”.  

Community Based Associations can collaborate with community partners and local organizations easily because they understand the structure of their environment.

Community Based Associations positively affect the process of rural change through increase in income, improvement of health, health education of the people.

Communities therefore seek solace in Community Based Associations which pressurize government for attention to development problems in their communities and/or undertake development programmes and projects that they observe that are very much needed in their immediate communities.

The Community Based Associations are associated with self-help. They constitute the media for resource mobilization to confront local challenges. Such associations are not money driven but purpose driven.  

These include stopping dangerous social norms, holding government to finance programs at rural level and press their needs and developing human resources against future development needs of immediate communities.

In communities where FGM is not discussed in the open, partnership with CBYA will help in making FGM an open topic for discussion during community gathering.

Community Based Associations can help at community levels to identify the root cause of Female Genital Mutilation in their community and why it still persist.  

This can be found out through survey of residents and discussion with community leaders, health workers and parents, Results of this survey would reflect the personal beliefs, viewpoints, and judgments of community members.

This can be used for intervention because People who respond to such surveys will give valuable information about knowledge, attitudes, and their beliefs concerning Female Genital Mutilation. This type of survey would include detailed information about the perception of the community members about FGM, what should be done to remedy the situation, the resources available, and the effects it’s having on the community.

Because Community Based Associations are made up of Youth, Women, Men and Custodians of Culture and traditions serving in different capacities: the justice system, the public health department, health Institutions, mental health agencies, the Division of Social Services, and Age grade groups e.t.c. they will be a strong force in ending Female Genital mutilation because they are made up of diverse people who are strong willed.

The history and importance of community based- Youth association in grassroots communities is a long one. They have been deeply involved in activities that have impacted on the livelihood of members of their communities and have gained there trust.

Partnership with Community Based Associations will not only build capacity and show commitment, it will also create an environment in which sustainability of FGM Campaign could thrive.

To partner with Community Based Associations, they need to be educated first about the harmful effect, consequences and the norms surrounding Female Genital Mutilation, this enable them function well, High level advocacy should be paid to the Custodians of Culture and tradition, Leaders of the different groups such as the Iyaloja in southwest Nigeria (Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun Ondo, Osun, and Oyo States). etc.

The Iyaloja which means the leader of the market women Association, and because of the word ‘Iya’, which means woman or mama or mother, it is natural that Iyaloja is a woman and it is one of the powerful policy making structures in southwest Nigeria.

Across various Yoruba markets and the states they belong to, an Iyaloja is usually democratically chosen she has an enormous decision-making power both in political affairs (because of her closeness to, and recognition by traditional rulers and policy makers), and in family matters.

Going by the power and influence of the Iyaloja, and their groups, working with Market Owen Associations in Southwest Nigeria will facilitate FGM abandonment process. This training will also enable them identify the problems surrounding this culture clearly and how to provide solutions.

Partnership with Community Based Associations will also allow the community take ownership of the #endFGM campaign and give room for open discussion on the issue during their regular meetings especially in places where FGM is not allowed to be discussed in the public.  

In southeast Nigeria (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo State), Community Women Associations will also deliberate the on the issue of FGM during their annual Women’s Meeting. This meeting is called the “Annual Home and Abroad meeting” or popularly known as “August Meeting”

This “August meeting” brings together all the women married into the community from different parts of the worlds.  It is mandatory for members to attend this meeting, which usually takes place in August each year. 

The “August Meeting” helps foster bonding, unity, and a sense of belonging between the women and other women who have married into their community.

Apart from intervening to resolve family or community conflicts, women also engage in community development projects, contribute to scholarship funds to support the education of indigent members of the communities, and combat violence against women.

During the Annual “August Meeting”, the women uses this opportunity to remind community members both home and abroad about the dangers of FGM and the need to abandon the practice.

It is very important to note that in communities around the world where people have openly declared to #endFGM, it has been led by the custodians of custom/traditional rulers due to partnership with their association. 

Partnering with Community Based Associations will help the success experienced in some states like Osun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Imo and Oyo state to be sustained  in the long-term and transferred to the next generation.

It’s important to note that ending Norms like Female Genital Mutilation in a community that has accepted such over years requires input from the entire community and community base Associations is an  important platform to help reach the entire community.

In conclusion, if End FGM campaigners can identify the different community based associations around them and fully engaged them in the campaign to end FGM, FGM will be eliminated in the this generation.

At this point, I will step aside to entertain your questions or comments or contributions. Thank you so much for participating at this conference and we hope you had a great time learning our platform.

For more information, please visit www.endcuttinggirls.org also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram via @endcuttinggirls. Don’t forget subscribe to our YouTube channel via https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyB8f8IM3k2xTsKNfUZf9wg?sub_confirmation=1 for educational videos on FGM.  .

Together, we will end female genital mutilation in this generation.