FACEBOOK CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Strengthening Community Governance Structures To Abandon FGM And Other Harmful Gender Norms – 29th December, 2020
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons
The World Health Organization (WHO), classifies FGM into four broad types, and subgroups, based on the anatomical extent of the procedure, and they are all practices 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.
All types of FGM were documented to occur according to the high rate of FGM is driven by deeply entrenched cultural traditions, values and social norms. Local leaders, government institutions, international and local agencies, religious scholars and grassroots activists have attempted to promote the elimination of FGM with varying degrees of success.
it’s worthy to note that 6000 girls face the risk of genital mutilation daily
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.
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, although 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.
The risks girls and women might likely encounter through FGM could be immediate and short term or long term and permanent.
Knowing that FGM is a form of harmful social norm and that its embedded in culture is one major reason why”Strengthening community governance structures” will be right step in right directions and would be an important step in ending FGM.
Community as we know is a group that perceive itself as having strong and lasting bonds, particularly when the group shares a geographical location. One measure of community is regular participation by individuals in its activities.
Another is the strength of identification among members with the perceived social bond of the group. A third is the specific physical space and location that is commonly understood as the group‘s territory.
Community is central to our lives. Historical changes have seen communities change over time and also seen community change social norms over time.
It has been recently noted by certain scholars that governance and social norms have both positive and negative impact on communities.
Community governance has been defined as the combination of rules, processes and structures in operation to secure order…in complex and fragmented societies they help in determination of key policy goals, the design and delivery of related policies, programmes and services.
Strengthening community governance will help to address problems and enhance overall quality of life in the community.
Community ownership is the best way to assure that this campaign becomes a permanent program in the community and this could only be done by strengthening them. .
One of the effective ways to strengthening community governance is to educate them about the harmful effect, consequences of these gender norms
Strengthening community governance would help to contribute to key national goals and to ensure that people’s rights to health are realized. This includes prevention, treatment and care, mitigation of the effects of major diseases and the creation of supportive and enabling environments in which these systems can function.
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 this emphasizes the need to strengthen community governance.
Strengthening community governance would help to identify the root cause of Female Genital Mutilation in their community and why it still persists.
Owing to the fact that members of community government understands the structure of their community Strengthening them would increase their confidence and wherewithal to take actions independently where they can best address a problem and to work with local government to address other challenges.
Because Communities have unique knowledge and cultural experience concerning their communities, strengthening them would help in ending harmful gender based norms.
This is by ensuring that they are shaped by accurate knowledge of what is needed, and based on respect for rights. This will further influence social change and healthy behaviours and ensure community engagement at local, national, regional and international levels.
Strengthening them would make them make good decisions on the abandonment of FGM and other harmful practices.
It’s important to note that Community members are not passive actors in community governance; rather, they are expected to contribute resources to address problems and improve quality of life of every child in the community.
Strengthening community governance could initiative change that could bring about long term effect.
Strengthening community governance would ensure more community engagement that could be about the drastic change such as public abandonment of harmful norms.
Strengthening community governance would bring about change in both community and government policy that could drive the change we desire.
Strengthening community governance would eventually lead to change in Community‐based financial systems, this can enable them own the campaign to
Strengthening community governance would definitely mean community empowerment which is a strategic approach to end any form of gender norms.
Strengthening community governance would help in getting direct feedback from the public where they want to change to happen.
Strengthening community governance would provide a vehicle through which local government can listen to the community and identify what community members think are their most pressing issues to address.
Strengthening community would to create an environment where all members of the community – men, women, the young, the elderly, the poor and the more affluent — can come together to openly discuss the effect of this harmful gender norms.
Furthermore, Strengthening community governance would them Build consensus on public issues such as endcuttinggirls using conflict mediation techniques; this would enable them Create action plans based on community consensus about this harmful gender norms and ways to address them.
This will enable them assist local institutions to mobilize their own resources to focus on these priority needs; they will also Form partnerships with government, NGO, and private sector agencies; this would on the long run Instill community ownership and pride in the change realized such as public abandonment of FGM.
Finally, Achieving change in harmful gender norms is likely to be a slow process. While some harmful gender norms might change quickly, more often, it will take time for new norms to spread across entire communities.
Lack of interest because of inadequate information on harmful gender norms might be a major step back in achieving this.
At this juncture, I will like to stop and I will welcome questions and contributions.
Thank you for joining me, don’t forget to join us again next week Thursday.
To learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign to end FGM, please visit http://www.endcuttinggirls.org and follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls .