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.

An estimated of over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, Every year some 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).

With the global population expected to rise in countries where FGM is concentrated, the number of women and girls at risk of FGM annually is expected to increase if the practice is not eliminated. .

FGM, which is prevalent in 30 countries in Africa and in a few countries in Asia and the Middle East, is now present across the globe due to international migration. .

When FGM occurs in Europe and United States; it is predominantly among diaspora communities representing countries where the practice is prevalent.Girls living in diaspora communities also are at risk of “vacation cutting” in which they are sent their family’s country of origin, or to a neighboring country, under the guise of vacation or cultural learning, but instead are subjected to FGM while abroad.

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. .

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

In order to eliminate the practice of FGM, the Phase I of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C Abandonment: Accelerating Change (UNJP) was conceived and implemented, in 15 countries, from 2008 to 2012. .

From 2014 to 2017, the Phase II of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C Abandonment: Accelerating Change (UNJP) was implemented, in 17 countries, including Nigeria.

The Phase III of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change commenced in 2018, and it is being implemented in 16 countries including Nigeria. It will end by December 2021. .

The goal of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme is to contribute to the acceleration of the total abandonment of FGM within a generation in line with United Nation General Assembly Resolution A/RES/67/146 to “intensify global efforts to eliminate FGM. .

As the largest global programme addressing FGM, the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM plays a critical role in achieving Target 5.3 which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices by 2030, under the Sustainable Development Goal. .

The Joint Programme adopts a holistic and multi-sectoral approach that supports ending FGM at household, community, national and global levels with focus on policy/legal reforms, girls/women empowerment, service provision and improved policy/programming. .

In order to achieve Outcome 3 of the Joint Programme“Girls and women access appropriate, quality and systemic services for FGM prevention, protection and care”, we need to strengthen the referral system for delivering FGM-related services (esp. health). .

Girls and women that have been subjected to FGM, or are at risk of FGM, require access to services (health, social or legal), which are necessary for their protection and care. .

It is also important to identify and refer girls and women who have had or are at risk of FGM, because early detection provides an opportunity for appropriate care and may protect siblings and other girls in the family against FGM. .

Interestingly, some communities after so many intervention and advocacy have publicly denounced the act. As interesting as this sound, the fact that the community have publicly declared that they are no longer in support of FGM doesn’t mean the act have final gone to extinction in the community. .

Greater community involvement has been crucial to ensure that increased government intervention is not seen as punitive,this led to the creation of community volunteers (champions) who are residents of the community who will help water the seed of #EndFGM that we have planted in the heart of the indigene and resident of the community. .

The endorsement of community champions was based on the recognition of the need to engage with affected communities, partly so that the message on ending FGM and the possible after effect of the practice could reach into communities. .

The Community champions who have been trained are familiar with the community can be the first responder in times when FGM is about to be carried out, since they live within the community, getting to the scene or family with the intention is faster and can save another girl child from being cut. .

They provide vital support until the arrival of the state technical committee. .

Since the community champions are inhabitants of the land, then its very possible to bank on their relationship with people and the trust they must have earned in the community .

As this can be a very good factor that can enhance convincing the family who are willing to cut their daughter considering the fact that humans finds it easier to trust the words of a known person faster than that of a stranger. .

Our aim of reducing the risk to girls and young women in the community undergoing genital mutilation in all its forms can be made possible with the presence of the community-based champions as young people and those responsible for safeguarding them are able to identify, report and refer if girls/young. .

During the last nationwide lockdown, a programme titled re-programming/support on inter-personal and social mobilization sessions: infusing covid-19 messages into EndFGM activities in selected communities that have publicly declared abandonment of FGM. .

There is a house to house sensitisation of FGM and covid-19 during covid-19 lockdown. .

COMOs were mandated to recruit active members from the already trained EndFGM Community Champions and Community-based child protection committee in each local government area .

They were provided with Reflective Jackets, Face Mask, Hand Sanitizers and FGM & COVID-19 factsheets to be distributed. .

The house to house went with little or no challenge as we had a known face which made the host more welcoming. .

There is now a more in-depth understanding of how to work with different social groups to prevent FGM as well as a clearer view of where support for FGM is highest. .

The community-based champions which includes youth, religious, traditional leaders, health workers etc. have been using this expertise to develop targeted and tailored FGM prevention activities in their local area not just limiting it to their area of influence alone. .

The religious leaders are not just waiting for religious gathering before telling community members of the danger of FGM. .

For better understanding on FGM or materials on FGM, I strongly recommend that you visithttp://www.who.int and www.endcuttinggirls.org or watch

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

At this point, I will end the presentation to give room for questions and contributions from participants. Thank you all for reading our tweets. .

Together we will end FGM in this generation. .