Good evening all. Welcome to the weekly Twitter Conference of the Endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign; a UNICEF-supported activity under the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM): Accelerating Change (Phase III) in Nigeria.

In 2007, a United Nations interagency statement called on governments, internationaland national organizations, civil society and communities to uphold the rights of girls andwomen, and end female genital mutilation.

Today, a global movement has emerged. Itrecognizes that enabling girls and women to fulfil their potential in dignity and equality,and achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require the elimination ofharmful practices, including female genital mutilation.

As the largest global programme on FGM, the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation:Accelerating Change (the Joint Programme) targets the most vulnerable and marginalized girlsand women, who face multiple and intersecting factors that increase their risk of undergoing FGM.

Phase III of the Joint Programme began in 2017 with a commitment to expanding a gender transformative approach to eliminating female genital mutilation. In 2019, results in the 16 countries covered by the Joint Programme included: More than 2.8 million people participated in public declarations of femalegenital mutilation abandonment in 3,362 communities, marking a 10 percentincrease in the number of such communities compared to 2018.

The number of communities establishing surveillance structures to track girls atrisk of female genital mutilation following public declarations of abandonmentdoubled compared to the previous year.

Since 2017, there has been a 50 percent rise in the number of communitiesbuilding girls’ capabilities and assets so they know and can claim their rights.

Three times as many networks of men and boys were established comparedto 2018, enabling men and boys to challenge discriminatory gender norms.

Nigeria joined Phase II of the Joint Programme, which ran from 2014-2017, and implementation this Program commenced in five States (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo), which had the highest FGM prevalence amongst women aged 15-49years based on the 2013 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2013).

One year later in 2015, @UNICEF_Nigeria trained a cadre of savvy social media advocates (35 young persons – F-16 & M-19), andsupported them to birth a vibrant and extremely cost-effective social media campaign to end FGM with the catchphrase “.”

The @Endcuttinggirls initiative by @UNICEF_Nigeriawas predicated on the need to expand access to information about FGM, provide visibility for on-going community-level interventions, constantly educate as well as interact with young people and other stakeholders.

The Social Media Advocates (SMAs) agreed on a discussion hash-tag () and decided to use six internet platforms to drive the campaign, namely, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Website and WhatsApp.

From 2015 to date, the @UNICEF Trained SMAs has sustained the  social media campaign which is currently adjudged to be the biggest online campaign going on against FGM in Nigeria.

As we speak, there are social media handles with the name ‘Endcuttinggirls’ on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. There is also a YouTube channel “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria,” a WhatsApp group “EndFGM ” for internal coordination and a website www.endcuttinggirls.org

With this our social media presence, the SMA have tried to become an #EndFGM mouthpiece and an online information reservoir for the Nigerian internet community and beyond. A snapshot of our activities so far on the six various internet platforms are presented below.

Twitter Campaign: our Twitter handle is @Endcuttinggirls [http://www.twitter.com/endcuttinggirls]. Between 2015 and date, the Twitter account had cummulatively sent out 11,725 tweets. The account is followed by 2,888Twitter users and follows 525 accounts.

The weekly #EndFGM Tweet Conference with the discussion hash-tag  which was launched in November 2015, is a signature campaign of the SMAs. This informative session hasbeen held consistentlyevery Thursdays,5pm to 7pm, Nigerian time since 2015 till date.

Over the years, every other Thursday, SMAs have continued to take turns to anchor the Twitter conference, sharing well-researched, educative and persuasive presentations on approved #EndFGM topics in accordance to a quarterly work plan. This pattern has been sustained till date.  

The SMAs through the @Endcuttinggirls Twitter handlehave also continued to give real time Social Media updates and visibility to various @UNICEF­_Nigeria supported #EndFGM activities in the five intervention States (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo).

Facebook Campaign: the SMAs launched an #EndFGM Facebook campaign, in 2015,with the official Facebook handle “Endcuttinggirls”[http://www.facebook.com/endcuttinggirls]. Today, our Facebook handle, which was created inAugust 2016, has3,157 likes and 3,201 followers.

Till date, the Facebook handle have been consistently used to organize a monthly Facebook Conference on the last Tuesday of each month, create awareness about #EndFGM as well as provide real-time updates of @UNICEF_Nigeria supported #EndFGM State Level Activities under the Joint Programme.

Instagram Campaign: in 2015, the SMAs lunched an Instagram handle “Endcuttinggirls” [https://www.instagram.com/endcuttinggirls/]. Till date, this account, which was created on 7th March 2017,has been consistently used to promote the #EndFGM social media campaign entirely.

Additionally, the Endcuttinggirls Instagram handle have also been used to give real time updates and visibility to all @UNICEF_Nigeria supported community #EndFGM interventions across the five project states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo).

Currently, the Instagram account has2,656 posts, 1,087 followers and follows 88 Instagram users. The account also has20,000 placard photographs of Frowns @FGM from Nigerians in 6 states: Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Imo, and Ebonyi State.

YouTube Campaign: the name of our YouTube channel is “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria.” (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyB8f8IM3k2xTsKNfUZf9wg/videos).

The  YouTube Channel became active when the first video was uploaded on 13th February, 2017. Today, the SMAs team has produced and put on this channel 43 videos around FGM. The channel also has947Subscribers as at 26th November 2020.

These #EndFGM videos on our YouTube channel range in length from 2 minutes to nearly 40, and span a wide creative expanse – from an animated cartoon suitable for a child to clinical explanations of the practice.

 The videos alsoaddress FGM from multiple perspectives, reflecting the range of contexts and rationales. A number of videos document celebratory tribal and community declarations of FGM abandonment. Several others are short dramas.

WhatsApp Campaign: the SMAs have a WhatsApp group namedEndFGM . The primary essence of this platform is for Internal Coordination and to serve as a clearing house for Real-time Updates of @UNICEF_Nigeria supportedState Level #EndFGM Activities.

Additionally, however, the WhatsApp as a social media platform have been used to organize series of quarterly #EndFGM Conferences across a range of well researched and approved topics.

Website Campaign: http://www.endcuttinggirls.org. The Website is an information a hub for the  Social Media Campaign with an archive of Campaign materials (Twitter Conference Eposters, Work-plan and Transcripts, etc.)

The website is also a central information Platform on the Endcuttinggirls Campaign and FGM in general. It has also grown to become a platform for News, Articles, Research and Efforts towards the abandonment FGM.

Additionally, the website is a reservoir for all videos produced by the Campaign and contains link to all the endcuttinggirls social media platforms.

Today, 26th November 2020, the website www.endcuttinggirls.org has cumulatively attracted a total of 173,404 unique visitors and 654,384 visits and still counting.

Over and beyond online activities, since November 2015, the young SMAs network have also beenintegrallyinvolved in activities organized by the United Nations Joint Programme at several other levels.

For instance, they have participated in capacity building training for @UNICEF_Nigeria partners on FGM programing and diMonitoring workshop.

They have been involved in materials development workshops such as the oneorganized by @UNICEF_Nigeria in 2016 where the endcuttinggirls logo, was developed. 

The SMAs are also members of the State Programme Teams, in the five focus states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo), and participate@UNICEF_Nigeria-supported joint programme field activities in order to document and report the activities using the Social Media Platforms.

They have also been collaborating on strong media engagements with the Radio Stationsthat produced the #EndFGM Radio Drama Serials “Pim Pim Pim”, across the five intervention states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo).

The Social Media Advocates (SMA) meet periodically to review and plan the activities of the Social Media Campaign, and undergo refresher training courses on FGM and implementing a social media campaign.   Since inception they have held 9review/planning meetings, and the last one was on 7th October 2020.

The  social media campaign started small but today have cumulatively reached some 8 million people and counting with myriads of positive #EndFGM impacts that have been far reaching.

Over the years, people have continuously reached out to the social media handles with FGM related questions and gotten clarifications.

Again, the numerous videos that we’ve produced and put on our “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria” YouTube channel have continued to serve as educative and training materials for many people.

Individuals and organizations including researchers visit our websitewww.endcuttinggirls.org regularly to get all kinds of useful and valid FGM related-information and materials.

Lastly, on several occasions people have alerted us through these our social media handles whenever someone in their neighborhood is about being mutilated and we have always responded to avert such cases of FGM.

Managing a Social Media Campaign requires time, passion and commitment.  The SMAs have demonstrated that they fit this mold and have, over the years, committed their time, skills and resources to this end because they believe in the campaign.

In 2018, the Joint Programme showcased the Social Media Campaign in its report titled “Putting it all together: a case study from Nigeria: Reflections on Phase II of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation – UNFPA 2018). 

On page 17, it featured an article titled “Social media takes on FGM”, where it stated that “A cadre of savvy social media advocates, trained and supported by the Joint Programme, is brilliantly exploiting that opportunity for change. A vibrant and extremely cost-effective social media campaign to end FGM has reached millions and is growing exponentially”.

Now that COVID-19 is changing the way the world works, these young social media advocates with over 5years experience have taken on greater responsibilities in the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria. Consequently, the 13 Twitter conference topics held from April to June 2020 was focused on COVID-19 and FGM.

For UNICEF_Nigeria, it has been an interesting journey partnering with the young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) to amplify the campaign to #endFGM in Nigeria, and UNICEF_Nigeria would love to share the lessons learned with others who wish to start a similar campaign.

We will, therefore, be proudly showcasing and celebrating the individual SMAsand those coordinating their affairs @UNICEF_Nigeria, all of who have consistently and tirelessly been at the background of this great movementbelow: –

Meet Dr. Odebode Olasunbo @Olasunbo_bode, she is a Child Protection Specialist with @UNICEF_Nigeria.  Dr. Odebode is also the UNICEF focal point for the Joint Programme in Nigeria.

Meet Mr. Benjamin Mbakwem @cydi2k. Benjamin is the @UNICEF_Nigeria FGM Consultantfor southeastern Nigeria (Imo and Ebonyi states).

Meet Mrs. Aderonke Olutayo @AderonkeOlutayo.. Aderonke is the@UNICEF_Nigeria FGM Consultant for southwestern Nigeria (Ekiti, Oyo and Osun states).

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Ademola Adebisi @Adexconsult (Nov 2015 set).

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Anthonia Okoli @Ttonia_ (Nov 2015 set).

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Felxfame Enisire @felxfames (Nov 2015 set).

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Dare O. Adaramoye (July 2016 set)@dareadaramoye.

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Michael A Olaniyan @Michael_avocat.(July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Adanze U. Njoku @danzychris. (July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Abayomi Sarumi @AATSarumi.(July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Chukwubueze N. Nwuzor @Chukwubueze_n. (July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Oladele Esan @deolutayo.(July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Okorie-Duru Victoria N. @9jascientist.(July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Ola Moses @olamosesdecoda.(July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Raymond Okpani @Rokpani. (July 2016 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Charles E. Ugwu @CHARLES_CLEVER. (May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Lauryn Dunkwu @_chzy.(May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Oparah C. Purity @lady_purity5. (May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA),Okoye Robinson Chibuzo @robinson4eva. (May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Da-Costa Titilade @timida_costa. (May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Morakinyo Moses Ola @honolamoses1. (May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Korikiye Teke F. @Her_petiteness.(May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Ayeni Anthony @thonyayeni. (May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Olufalade A. Toluwalope @capritolu.(May 2017 set)

Meet Social Media Advocate (SMA), Cynthia Omo @iamcindymartins.(May 2017 set)

The success of the Endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign has exceeded the expectations of all members of the network.  The followers of the six social media platform are growing and more people are being informed in the online community.

So many young people are requesting for opportunities to join the Campaign, and the SMAs are now forming local teams of young Social Media Advocates in the five states. Most of these young people follow our activities, especially the twitter Conference that takes place every Thursday, 5pm – 7pm Nigerian time with the discussion hash-tag . 

The Social Media has a huge potential to contribute towards ending the practice of FGM, as shown by the Endcuttinggirls campaign. 

The Endcuttinggirls Social Media advocates, sincerely, appreciate @UNICEF_Nigeria for birthing this initiative.  The success of this campaign can only be attributed to her foresight, leadership, support and guidance all through the year.

Finally, we wish to reiterate that FGM still remains a harmful practice that absolutely no benefits.

The complete eradication of FGM by the year 2030 is possible and all hands must be on deck to accelerate this process.

Thanks for being part of our conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our website www.endcuttinggirls.org and kindly follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms.

It’s time to hear and respond to your questions and/or opinions based on the conference. Keep them coming.