By Anthony Ayeni

Many say that the battle against female genital mutilation is a matter of women and sometimes of some religious leaders. Indeed, they are doing an important job, but what is less known is that young people have an important role to play in #endcuttinggirls

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”. #endcuttinggirls

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: #endcuttinggirls …

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. #endcuttinggirls

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision). #endcuttinggirls

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. #endcuttinggirls

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). #endcuttinggirls

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora. #endcuttinggirls

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary. #endcuttinggirls

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. #endcuttinggirls

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. #endcuttinggirls

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. #endcuttinggirls

FGM functions as a self-enforcing social convention or social norm. In societies where it is practiced, it is a socially upheld behavioural rule. #endcuttinggirls

The governments do not condone FGM, however @unicef calls on governments to abolish harmful traditional, social, and cultural practices in the country. #endcuttinggirls

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.  #endcuttinggirls

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.  #endcuttinggirls

The risks girls and women might likely encounter through FGM could be immediate and short term or long term and permanent. #endcuttinggirls

The most common risk factors for either undergoing FGM or forcing a girl to undergo the procedure are cultural, religious and social. #endcuttinggirls

These influences include social pressure to conform to peers, perception of FGM as necessary to raise a girl properly and prepare her for adulthood and marriage e.t.c. #endcuttinggirls

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int

The abandonment of FGM in Nigeria is a step in the right direction as Goal 3 of the post 2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs) says that government at all levels must ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for their citizens, including any practice that negatively affects the health of her citizens, such as FGM. #endcuttinggirls

SDG goal 5 also seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, an ending FGM is a critical starting point. #endcuttinggirls

Everyone has a role to play to #endcuttinggirls. Community members themselves should agree to put an end to this harmful practice, by joining hands with organisations such as unicef and unfpa that work to prevent and tackle FGM where they live.#

While the practice of FGM isn’t limited to Nigeria, a report by UNICEF stated that in the past, Nigeria had the highest absolute number of FGM cases in the world, amounting to approximately one quarter of the estimated 115-130 million cases in this world. #endcuttinggirls

This statistic shows how common the practice of FGM is in Nigeria Because of this, it is necessary to highlight the role young people can play in totally eradicating the practice of FGM in Nigeria.#endcuttinggirls

Young people can lead the way in tackling development, gender, and health issues, and they can lead the way to ending the practice of FGM in Nigeria if given the chance.#endcuttinggirls

Today’s young people can play a critical role in #endcuttinggirls

Unleashing the power of youth means investing in youth-led movements to champion gender equality, an end to violence against women and girls and the elimination of harmful practices.#endcuttinggirls

This requires including young people as partners when designing and implementing national action plans, building relationships with youth-led organizations and networks that work to end female genital mutilation. #endcuttinggirls

 RecognizeFGM as a form of violence against women and girls, empowering young people to lead community campaigns that challenge social norms and myths, and engaging men and boys as allies. #endcuttinggirls

The statistical population of youth worldwide shows that young people possess the needed capacity to #endcuttinggirls

Because young people are predominantly affected, they can help to endcuttinggirls by engaging in aggressive awareness campaigns in rural communities, where cultural beliefs and societal pressure to conform to existing traditional practices force parents to let their girl children go through FGM.#endcuttinggirls

During the awareness, youths can highlight the harmful health implications of FGM to parents and traditional leaders in communities where it is practiced.#endcuttinggirls

Explaining that girl children who do not undergo FGM grow up to be healthy women and no less female than girls who undergo FGM, would go a long way is changing the mindset of communities that still practice FGM.#endcuttinggirls

To endcuttinggirls in Nigeria, young people must engage with those who can sway communities such as religious leaders. #endcuttinggirls

Young people should engage with religious leaders to speak out against FGM. Nigeria is made up of highly developed and diversified religious groups and much religious leaders are given enormous respect and weight in Nigerian society.#endcuttinggirls

Based on the respect they carry, it would be easier for religious leaders to convince parents and community leaders to stop the practice of FGM.#endcuttinggirls

Young people must call for the implementation of all laws, provisions prohibiting the practice of FGM and Support FGM survivors. #endcuttinggirls

They should educate people of the older generations and include them in the campaign to end FGM #endcuttinggirls

Youth can #endcuttinggirls by increasing their understanding of FGM in Nigeria. By being aware of the reality and severity of FGM, youth can support the movement to end FGM.

Youths can achieve this by signing petitions and learning by watching films and reading articles or first-hand accounts.#endcuttinggirls

Youth should Stay Vigilant: Girls who are been cut and pierced are always young, possibly not fully aware of why they are doing it to them.#endcuttinggirls

 They may not be able to speak out. It’s important to watch for warning signs if you know anyone who you believe is at risk. #endcuttinggirls

Youths can Volunteer with NGOs who is working on FGM to help in #endcuttinggirls

Additionally, young people should go directly into schools and talk to students, especially girls, about the dangers of FGM. Since it is girls who are affected, such visits should be led by a young woman, or perhaps even a female victim of FGM who could share her personal experience.#endcuttinggirls

Youths can also use Social Media Advocacy to #endcuttinggirls, Social media today, is an extremely vital means of education and advocacy and could be a tool to reach out to other youths.

Finally, for young people to end FGM in Nigeria in this generation, Young people must stand at the forefront of efforts to raise awareness of the devastating impacts of FGM , using platforms such as social media. #endcuttinggirls

They must be active drivers of change, challenging laws and policies that allow this practice to happen. They also need the government’s support and strong political commitment to enact strict penalties for those who still practice FGM.#endcuttinggirls

Now is the time to invest, translating the political commitments already made into concrete action. Now is the time to do more and do it better and faster to endcuttinggirls once and for all. #endcuttinggirls

Now is the time to keep our promise to all girls of reaching zero female genital mutilation by 2030.#endcuttinggirls

Endeavour to visit www.endcuttinggirls.org , and follow us on twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube using @endcuttinggirls.  #endcuttinggirls.

 It’s time for questions #endcuttinggirls

Together we will end FGM in this generation #endcuttinggirls