Across the world, over 200 million girls and women have undergone at least one of the four forms of female genital mutilation.

Of this 200 million, 10% are Nigerians and they are people we have at one time or the other come across in our daily endeavor.

This whole number is an enormous number considering the population distribution of Nigeria.

In Nigeria, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2016 -2017) has revealed that18.4% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM; a decrease from 27% in 2011.  Conversely, the national FGM prevalence among daughters aged 0-14 years increased from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-2017).

Good evening all and welcome to another interesting edition of the UNICEF trained social media advocates under the UNJP Programme to end FGM.

Ahead of the 2021 international women’s day, which is slated for 8th March 2021, we will focus our discussion on the topic: Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future free from any form of FGM in a COVID-19 world.

Today’s topics celebrates the leadership role women and girls has played in achieving an equal future free from any form of FGM.

Over the years, women at Communities where FGM is practiced have been at the forefront of campaigning against FGMin the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women leaders and women’s organizations have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively lead campaigns to end FGM in their communities.

Today there is more acceptance than ever before that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table, and make irreplaceable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all.

The activities of women in the end FGM campaign is pivotal in catalyzing norm change by taking a public position in calling for the elimination of FGM.

Today’s Tweets will feature what women in Nigeria are doing to put a total end to FGM in their communities.

1Women in Nigeria are leading a household visit session with other women from their community to sensitize pregnant women and nursing mothers on the dangers of FGM.

This household visit is important in places where FGM happens on or before the 8th day to newly born female babies in Nigeria.

Consequently, before a woman thinks of performing FGM on her newly born female baby, women have already sensitized the woman and her household on the dangers of the practice.

Women in Nigeria are also leading male involvement discussion with men in their communities to let them know the dangers FGM poses on the health of women.

Women are also using their natural groups at community level to educate other women groups on the dangers of FGM.

In places where FGM have been publicly denounced, women had established mechanism to monitor and track new cases of FGM in their communities and report back to their traditional rulers as a way to sustain the public declaration of FGM.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7OLjEBJrNk&list=PL2bH-jsY2oExqQcFCO6ImNJV0dCtudFBE

In Southeast Nigeria, women are using theirannual women August meeting to sensitize fellow women on the dangers of FGM.

Women through their natural groups have also enacted local sanctions to deal with any members who is involved in anyform of FGM directly or indirectly.

Finally, Women in Nigeria have used their leadership positions to ensure that Girls born into this generation are safe from any form of FGM in their communities and they are ready to do more if given more leadership opportunities.

Before we end the discussion, we would like to look at some of the basic facts about FGM.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as “all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

In other words, it is any procedure that causes injury to the female genitals without medical indication.

The World Health Organization (@WHO), classifies FGM into four broad types, based on the anatomical extent of the procedure: …

Type I (Clitoridectomy): This refers to the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (the fold of skin covering the clitoris). This is also referred to as ‘Sunna’.

Type II (Excision): Removal (in part or whole) of the clitoris and labia minora. The labia majora may or may not be removed.

Type III (Infibulation): Here, the vaginal orifice is narrowed, and a covering seal created by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora. The clitoris may also be removed. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Pharaonic’.

Type IV (Unclassified): Any other harmful procedure performed on the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing and incision of the clitoris and/or labia, stretching and/or cutting of the vagina (‘gishiri’), scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal opening (‘angurya’) and cauterization.

It also includes the introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten or narrow the vagina, as well as massaging the clitoris with hot water or petroleum jelly to de-sensitize the clitoris (common in Imo State).

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, 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.

For additional reading on FGM you can visit http://www.who.int and www.endcuttinggirls.org or watch https://youtu.be/f0-dYD9cYKo

Thanks for being part of our conversations today. Join us every 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.

Together we will end FGM in this generation.