According to WHO, over 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone #FGM and continue to live with the negative consequences of this violating procedure

Every year, 3 million girls around the world are at the risk of undergoing FGM(UNICEF, 2016)

Hello everyone, welcome to today’s 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. I am @_chzy (Lauryn Dunkwu) your Anchor.  

Our topic today is “A world without FGM is possible through Gender Equality and the realization of women’s rights in a Covid-19 world”  

The conference will be on for 2hours (5:00 to 7:00pm – Nigerian Time). Be sure to participate by re-tweeting and quoting the conversation. I will start responding to questions from 6:45pm.

For those joining in for the first time, FGM stands for ‘’Female Genital Mutilation”  

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. 

FGM is a form of violence against women and children is frequently practiced as traditional rites across many different cultures.

 Often as a part of traditional beliefs, FGM is wrongly practiced as a means to beautify women sexually and equally wrongly assumed to preserve virtue.

Many different forms of Female Genital Mutilation are practiced across cultures. FGM typically 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.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, all of which are practiced in Nigeria. They include:

FGM Type 1 is defined as the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).

The subgroups of Type 1 FGM are:

type 1a, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only;

type 1b, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

FGM Type 2 entails the 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 2a, removal of the labia minora only;

type 2b, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora;

type 2c, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.

FGM Type 3 involves the 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).

14b. Subgroups of Type III FGM are:

type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora;

type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

FGM Type 4 is also known as unclassified and involves all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

The FGM Type 4 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 Africa including Nigeria.

FGM for the most part is carried out by traditional circumcisers, who tend to have other roles in the community, such as Traditional Birth Attendants. In other instances, willing medical professionals are be sought out by parents to have the procedure carried out on their daughters.

FGM is harmful to girls and women, and has health benefits. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.

The practice of FGM continues to prevail due to: Respect for Tradition, Rite of Passage, Social Convention, Marriageability, Virginity, Fertility, Chastity and Faithfulness, Cleanliness, Femininity, and Religion. 

For more information about FGM you can visit https://endcuttinggirls.org/or https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation

Gender Equality refers to the even distribution of responsibilities, opportunities, and legal/human rights across a population irrespective of gender  

The United Nations describes Gender Equality as not only a fundamental human right, but also a necessary foundation a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world

In recent years, several communities have made strides in achieving Gender Equality, with more girls attending school, more women in leadership roles, fewer girls forced into early marriage, and more laws supporting women’s rights

Despite these advances, the issues affecting the health and safety of women and girls around the world remain

Discriminatory laws against women prevail in several regions and communities

Social norms that are harmful to women and girls continue to be upheld

And in the context of this conversation, FGM continues to be practiced in several parts of the world, including many states and communities in Nigeria

There are justified concerns over the halted and possibly reversible progress made towards achieving Gender Equality during the global COVID-19 pandemic

With the shutdown of outdoor and social activities and limitations of closed setting gatherings,

many girls and women have limited access to health services, education, and other social activities

Existing inequalities in health, socio-economic and protection and security have been aggravated

FGM is recognized as a form of violence against women and girls and is prevalent in communities where the girl child is not considered equal to her male counterparts

In an ideal world where Gender Equality has been achieved, all harmful practices against girls and women, including FGM can be completely eliminated

With the added difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased social protection and participation in decision-making amongst others would be key to ensuring continuity in the progression towards Gender Equality

Advocacy to communities and reeducation for behavioral change should be intensified,

with more socio-economic relief support directed towards women and girls

This can be greatly supported with more social media engagements and interactions, buttressing the goal to enhance use of enabling technologies to promote empowerment of girls and woman at all levels

An expansion of access to psycho-social and other vital medical services for women and girls should be major components of community-based intervention programs

Other collaborative services in response to gender-based violence, such as legal, justice, and security services must remain as essential to allow continued access

A collective effort is required to address gender biases and put and end to harmful practices against girls and women

As we support girls and women around the world to #ChoosetoChallenge let us also enforce enabling structures to ensure a sustained progression towards Gender Equality and

I will now stop the conversation so as to take some moments to reflect on the key points raised as I respond to any questions

Thank you for joining the conference today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm and visit www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM in Nigeria. Be sure to follow “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms

Together, we will end FGM in this generation.