Over 200 million girls and women havebeen subjected to FGM in 30 countries.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=26s.

Across these 30 countries, the prevalenceof FGM has dropped by about one thirdover the past three decades. Yet, withoutconcerted and accelerated actions, another68 million girls are likely to be cut by 2030due to population growth.

Ending FGM is a matter of human rightsand gender equality. It impacts health, development, and our common future.

The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme is theworld’s largest response to eliminate FGM.

The Joint Programme has refined a methodology to shiftdeeply entrenched social norms through collective actionand community declarations of FGM abandonment.

New attitudes and voices — of girls and women, leadersyoung and old, health providers and officials — are amplified and scaled up across multi-media channels. They aresustained through post-public declaration initiatives andfollowup

A social norm might be enforced by informal social sanctions that range from gossip to open censure, ostracism and/ or dishonour. Social sanction motivates individuals to follow a norm out of fear of punishment or out of a desire to please and thus be rewarded.

A Social Norm can be very fragile, particularly in cases of pluralistic ignorance. This occurs when a majority of individuals have private attitudes/preferences in conflict with the prevailing Social norm.

Often people are not able to freely talk about their private attitudes, for fear of social sanction, and so the norm remains in place, even if most people do not want to continue to follow it.

Until expectations are changed, individuals in a group will continue to obey the norm because of their belief that he/she is expected to do so.

A public pledge to abandon a harmful norm suddenly and collectively changes expectations and can therefore induce a norm shift.

Public pledges allow people to create common knowledge of new expectations. For example, everyone knows that everyone else knows that we expect others not to cut their daughters.

Good evening and welcome to another wonderful edition of the UNICEF Nigeria trained social media advocates social media campaign to end FGM. 

Today we are focusing on “Promoting Community-Led Engagement to end FGM in Nigeria: Public Declarationof Abandonment of FGM.

Under the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM, a public declaration /affirmation is defined as “formal public ceremonies involving one or more communities—typically villages, but increasingly also districts and ethnic groups—that take part in an event where they manifest, through their representatives, the specific commitment to abandon FGM”. 

This is a moment of broad social recognition, which shows that most support abandonment of FGM, and most likely will abandon the practice. 

A public declaration does not mean that the declaring village is free from FGM; rather it represents a milestone in the process of abandonment because it signals the change in social expectations.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4tfbEHmSW0&t=474s

Since 2017, Communities in Nigeria have been coming out enmass to publicly declare the abandonment of FGM. https://youtu.be/OnofPyKQX94

Experience from these interventions shown that, after months or years of engagement and consensus building, these public affirmations constitute a bottom-up, rather than top-down, manifestation of change.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iecGvewbU6o&list=PL2bH-jsY2oExqQcFCO6ImNJV0dCtudFBE&index=4

According to an evaluation conducted by UNICEF in 2007, in Senegal, one of the first countries to make a series of public declarations, these events are perhaps the most critical step on the path to abandonment. 

Public declaration of FGM abandonment is an outcome level activity in the UNJP Programme and this is done after several interconnected activities with such communities before they can take this decision.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO0utLYwIaM&t=81s

The Public declaration event is always planned by the Community leaders and in some cases where FGM is believed to be a religious injunction, the religious leaders are also brought into the picture by the Community leaders.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwLxS_mt4Fg&t=97s

When a community publicly denounces the practice, they are not only declaring to themselves, but to other communities, that they have abandoned FGM, which then helps in paving the way for other communities – especially those with which they regularly inter-marry – to do the same.

I believe you would agree with me that programs that are led by communities are, by nature, participatory and generally guide communities to define the problems and solutions themselves.

Programs that have demonstrated success in promoting abandonment of FGM on a large scale build on human rights and gender equality and are nonjudgmental and non-coercive. They focus on encouraging a collective choice to abandon FGM.

To reach the collective, coordinated choice necessary for sustained abandonment of FGM, communities must have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on new knowledge in public.

Public dialogue provides opportunities to increase awareness and understanding by the community as a whole on women’s human rights and on national and international legal instruments on FGM.

This dialogue among community member often focuses on women’s rights, health, and FGM, and brings about recognition of the value of women in the community, thus fostering their active contribution to decision-making and enhancing their ability to end the practice. 

Most importantly, such public discussions can stimulate discussions in the private, family setting where decisions about FGM are made by parents and other family members. 

The collective, coordinated choice by a practicing group to abandon FGM should be made visible or explicit through a public pledge (public declaration/affirmation) so that it can be trusted by all concerned. 

Indeed, many of the approaches adopted by community-based initiatives lead towards a public declaration of social change.

This creates the confidence needed by individuals who intend to stop the practice to actually do so and is therefore a key step in the process of real and sustained change in communities.

So far in 2018, UNICEF, under the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating Change, has supported more than 241 communities to publicly declare abandonment of FGM in Five States, (Ekiti, Imo, Osun, Ebonyi and Oyo ). 

Recently, 22 Communities in Ihitte-Uboma LGA of Imo State publicly declared abandonment of FGM on the 25th of March 2021.

At the Public declaration, the 22 Traditional rulers made public pronouncement against the practice of FGM and signed a Communique which the displayed in their communities and handed a copy to UNICEF State Partners in the state.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration: Abueke Community.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Amainyaita.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Armainyi.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Amakohia.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Ekwereocha.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Eluama-Abueke.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Ezimba.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Ihinna.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Ihitte-Uboma Council if Traditional rulers

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Ikoerejere

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Ikperejere-Uboma

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Nkwumeato

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Okata

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Onicha-Uboma

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Ugwuichie

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Umuawaeke-Amainyi

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Umuawuchi

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Umuderim

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Umuezegwu.

Sample of Communique issued during the Ihitte-Uboma LGA FGM Public declaration:Umuihi

At this point, I will stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions.Thanks for being part of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm.

Visit our www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “@Endcuttinggirls” on all social media platforms.

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.