Good evening all and welcome to our monthly Facebook Conference. I am your host for today.

According to @WHO, the term “Female Genital Mutilation” refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

There are 4 Types of female genital mutilation

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.

FGM of any type is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM is known to be harmful to girls and women in many ways.  

The removal of or damage to healthy, normal genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term physical, psychological and sexual consequences.

Through the UNICEF/UNFPA Joint program, the Endcuttinggirls Campaign has worked with several communities across Nigeria to create awareness, sensitize and train relevant stakeholders on the importance of abandoning the practice of FGM.

The campaign has also trained a lot of community members as FGM champions and we have recorded massive progress over the years.

It is worthy of note that some communities have shown more commitment through the public declaration of FGM abandonment in Ebonyi, Ekiti and Imo states.

But again, there are still cases of people who are still carrying out the FGM practices secretly. These set of people still have a very strong connection to the practice either from how they profit from it or how it connects to other beliefs which they hold so dear.

For instance, in some communities, FGM may be an important part of a girl’s transition to adulthood and marriage-ability and may be followed by other things like mark of womanhood and other ceremonies. But in other communities, girls at their young age are made to undergo FGM cutting secretly without any form of celebration or ritual.

The examples above are some of the diversities across various communities that has made it difficult for some of them to maintain the practice even after they have publicly declared the abandonment of FGM practices in their communities.

Again, in many communities, there is a mutual reinforcement and interconnection between religion, culture and tradition. And in most cases, some of the valued beliefs are incorrectly assumed to be mandated by the religious belief too.

Therefore, there is the need to clearly define strategies that can help in sustaining the commitment of people who have denounced the practice entirely. 

To achieve this, we need to identify the roles and connection of other social norms or associated beliefs to the practice of FGM. The truth is that FGM is supported by a set of other beliefs that are interconnected.  This will help to create alternative solutions that can exchange for whatever gap the FGM fills in such communities.

Here are a few Strategies that can help us to ensure that can help us to sustain the commitment of communities who have publicly declared their abandonment for the practice of FGM.

Establishing a Community Based Surveillance Team through Partnering with Community Women’s Associations to protect Girls at risk of FGM in communities that have publicly declared the abandonment of FGM

The Community Women’s Associations (CWA) will establish a Community Surveillance Team (CST) that will carry out the work on behalf of the Community Based Child Protection Committee (CBCPC)

The CWA was chosen because they are in the best position to monitor their pregnant members and intervene to prevent FGM, VAC, VAWG, Promote Birth Registration, and reduce the risk of COVID-

The presence of CWA members in every household, compound, kindred, and village in every community makes them the ideal partner to monitor child protection issues in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

After the training as FGM Monitors, each CST representative will brief their Traditional Rulers on the outcome of the training and inform him the changes to the structure of the CBCPC and the inclusion of integrated child protection messages in their assignment.

The CST representatives will brief their members on the outcome of the training during their monthly meeting and explain the assignment that they are expected to carry out.

They CST representatives will also nominate Monitors in each village (2 persons per kindred) for effective monitoring and reporting.  The trained CST and Village Monitors will be inaugurated by the Traditional Ruler, and start their work immediately.

The CST representatives and Monitors will lead discussions with women at the Community Women’s Association meetings at kindred, village and community levels. 

They will use existing community programmes/structures (e.g. religious meetings; kindred meetings; age grade meetings) to present the integrated messages to the other community members.

Establishing Community Based Child Protection Committees to track and monitor new cases of FGM is another way to ensure sustainability of the FGM public declaration.

The purpose of CBCPC is to coordinate the community-based child protection and response systems at the Community level.

While the CBCPC members can representatives of key stakeholders in the Community including Traditional Ruler’s Council, Women Leader, President-General, Youth Leader, Custodian of culture, Clergy, and any other relevant stakeholder such as community vigilante group

The CBCPC met at the end of each month at the Palace of the Traditional Ruler.  In addition, members are also called, occasionally, as the need arises. 

They can also help in Identifying vulnerable children and trying to understand the reasons or causes of their vulnerability and find solution to it or refer them to appropriate institution.  

CBCPC can also help my monitoring and follow up every child that was given birth after the public declaration in such communities to be sure they are not mutilated.

CBCPC can also track birth record of child born after the public declaration to be sure that they are not mutilated.

They also help to check the activities of other NGO’s or association in the communities.

CBCPC can help in monitoring cross-border FGM, as more people try to avoid prosecution in their own communities by travelling to neighboring communities seeking FGM for girls and women.

CBCPC can also help to monitor and make sure alternative rites of passage agreed during the FGM abandonment are strictly followed.

Also enhancing the partnership between health service providers and community surveillance committee can also help in sustaining the campaign to end FGM in Communities that have publicly declared the abandonment of FGM

To expand the scope of the community surveillance committee, there is need for a partnership with Health care providers at the community level.

A Training programs for these professionals, that should focus on what FGM is, why it is practiced, its health impacts, and ways to prevent it.

Such trainings must also sensitize health care practitioners to the fact that FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s rights to health and conflicts with the “do no harm” principle of medical practice.

These professionals, as a focus of FGM abandonment programs, should be given the opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and think critically about how these views may fuel the continuation of the practice.

After the training, the Health workers should form part of the FGM Community Surveillance Committee to sensitize Pregnant women during antenatal care services on the dangers of FGM.

The Health care workers to also reinforce the message of “Zero FGM” and remind them of the commitment they made during the FGM Public declaration of abonnement. to Nursing Mothers who access immunization services in their facilities.

During the Immunization services, the health care workers can check to see if a baby has been subjected to the practice of FGM Including Type 4 FGM.

While the health care workers focus on sensitizing pregnant women and nursing mothers t their facilities, the Community Surveillance Team will focus on household visit.

This partnership will ensure that both women who visits health facilities for delivery and those who prefer to deliver at home are reached with the message of “zero FGM” and serve as a reminder on the commitment made during the public declaration of FGM abandonment in their community. 

I believe that the above points and many more will greatly contribute to sustaining of various commitments to stay true to their words after declaring their abandonment for the practice of female genital mutilation.

Thank you so much for being part of the conversation. I will now open up the floor for your questions, comments and contributions.

Together, we will end FGM in this generation.