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TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Preventing the spread of COVID-19 as we work together to end FGM – 02.04.2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the world, an unprecedented number of people are participating in forms of self-isolation, lockdown or quarantine.

With the School close-down in Nigeria, (due to the outbreak of COVID-19), girls in Nigeria are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and are to be protected from FGM.  

Some FGM practicing community may start taking advantage of the schools’ closure, and mutilate girls when they get home.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 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. @WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into four types, and all four types are all practiced in Nigeria.  @WHO @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.

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.

FGM is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who may 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 has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, and every year some 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2018) revealed that 20% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 25% (2013). 

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

Now let us learn about COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and how to prevent its spread as we work together to end FGM.  Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.  

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.   

The symptoms start with a fever followed by a dry cough, which can lead to breathing problems. It takes 5 days on average to start showing symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the incubation period lasts up to 14days.  

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.  

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads.  

Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub (hand sanitizer) frequently and not touching your face. 

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).  

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.  

WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.  For more information about COVID-19 you can visit https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_2

Most FGM rituals involving coming together of people, this goes against the social distance guideline as a measure of preventing COVID-19 and can spread the virus.  

COVID-19 could be spread from person to person most especially in FGM practice communities where FGM is performed as a rite of passage.  

Parents that takes their children to cutters secretly for FGM will also be contributing to the spread of COVID-19.  If the cutter is infected with the virus, she can transmitt it to the child or vice versa.  

In this challenging time, the need to respond to follow the WHO guidelines for the prevention of COVID 19 to ensure that the virus does not spread as we work together to end FGM. Please remember to follow the six steps in tweets 34b-g to prevent catching or spreading  

  • Step 1: wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a sanitizer  
  • Step 2: Catch coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues,  
  • Step 3: throw away used tissues (then wash your hand),  
  • Step 4: If you don’t have a tissue cough into your sleeve (elbow);
  • Step5: avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;  
  • Step 6: avoid close contact with people who are unwell.  

UNICEF_Nigeria trained End FGM Community based surveillance team are on ground to report suspected cases of FGM despite the ongoing crisis.  

The @UNICEF_Nigeria State partners will continue to respond to reported cases of FGM as we work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring that girls safe from FGM.  

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 Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms.  @Endcuttinggirls

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.   

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FACEBOOK CONFERENCE Transcript: Promoting the right of women, a tool to ending Female Genital Mutilation – 31.03.2020

by Ola Moses Morakinyo

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 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, and they are all practiced 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.

FGM has short terms and long-term effects on the health and well-being of girls and women. Short term effects of FGM include: severe pain, excessive bleeding, shock, genital tissue swelling, infections, while the long-term effects include chronic genital infections, urinary tract infections, painful urination, keloids, perinatal risks, etc.

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM practice violates women and girls’ rights to health, security and physical integrity, rights to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and rights to life (when the procedure results in death)

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

FGM practice is strongly rooted in the people’s culture and so, it has not been an easy task in getting people to abandon the practice despite the harmful effects on girls and women.

It is estimated that about 200 million girls/women have undergone FGM and about 3 million girls/women per year are at risk.  Unless action to end FGM is accelerated, another 68 million girls will have been cut by 2030 (Antonio Guterres – UN Sec. Gen.)

In Nigeria, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2016-17) revealed that 18.4% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 27% (2011).  Conversely, the FGM prevalence among daughters (0-14 years) rose from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-17). 

Girls and women living with have experienced a harmful practice and should be provided quality health care, while those at risk should be protected from being subjected to this harmful procedure.

The “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM: Accelerating Change” is being implemented to end FGM in 16 countries including Nigeria.  It commenced in 2008, while Nigeria joined in 2014. Phase III began in Jan. 2018 and will end by Dec. 2021. The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM is playing a mammoth role in achieving Target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices by 2030, under Goal 5 of the SDGs. In Nigeria, one of the strategies adopted by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating Change” is Peer Education.

Before discussing today’s topic, “Promoting the right of women, a tool to ending FGM”, let us define the term that we shall be using in this presentation.

Women’s rights are the fundamental human rights that were enshrined by the United Nations for every human being on the planet. These rights include the right to live, free from violence, slavery, and discrimination; to be educated; to own property, to earn a fair and equal wage.

The women’s rights, freedom from discrimination, freedom from violence, the right to health, the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, rights related to marriage and family, right to an effective remedy, and the right to information.

Right to health and physical integrity is to strengthen its legislative measures regarding FGM and conduct awareness-raising campaigns to combat and eradicate this and other traditional practices harmful to the health, survival and development of children, especially girls.

Reference to FGM as a violation of women’s physical integrity, and notes that “despite efforts to combat the practice of female genital mutilation (excision), this practice, which violates the rights and physical integrity of women, persists in certain regions in Nigeria and laws criminalizing female genital mutilation and the law on sexual and reproductive health have not been, effectively, enforced.”.

FGM has a violation of the rights of women and children. In cases where the state fails to act with due diligence, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment may also apply. The Guidelines Development Group underscored the rejection of medicalization on the basis of international consensus that FGM is a human rights violation that should never be practiced.

The involvement of health-care providers in performing FGM is likely to confer a sense of legitimacy on the practice and could give the impression that the procedure is good for women’s health, or at least that it is harmless. it is critical to ensure that the particular health issues of women and girls who have undergone FGM, as well as ensuring that quality sexual and reproductive health care and services are available, accessible, acceptable and of high quality.

In order to ensure that all women and girls can exercise and enjoy the highest attainable standard of health, and to express their sexuality in conditions free from discrimination, coercion and violence. Female genital mutilation violates a series of well-established human rights principles, norms and 

standards, including the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex,

FGM violates the right to life when the procedure results in death, and the right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as well as the rights identified below.

The practice of FGM interferes with healthy genital tissue in the absence of medical necessity and can lead to severe consequences for a woman’s physical and mental health, female genital mutilation is a violation of a person’s right to the highest attainable standard of health.

There is a need to enforce the rights of women and children because their vulnerability and need for care and support, as well as the human rights law, grants them special protection.  Therefore, promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls will include the strategies below;

  • Providing sustainable emotional support for women and girls affected by FGM to enhance prevention efforts and support survivors
  • Ensuring self-care for campaigners, staff and volunteers working to end FGM, particularly in grassroots organization
  • Breaking down the stigma associated with FGM and associated emotional or mental health issues
  • Creating safe spaces where women can reflect on their experiences, and what this means for their own daughters, creates an opportunity for breaking the inter-generational cycle of FGM.
  • Advocating for the end of the practice, which is targets women and girls and interferes with their enjoyment of their fundamental rights.
  • Promoting the right of women and girls to lead the efforts to modify any custom that discriminates against them.
  • Promoting the right of women to abolish any traditional practice that are harmful to children and women.
  • Promoting the right of women and girls to unrestricted access to health care information and services
  • Promoting the right of women to ensure a social order in which rights, and that of girls, can be realized.
  • embodying the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation, if not yet incorporated therein and ensuring, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle.
  • Adopting appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women.
  • Establishing legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination.
  • Refraining from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation;
  • taking all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise;
  • Taking all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women;
  • Repelling all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women and girls.
  • Providing accurate and accessible information and education about FGM as a practice that violates the rights of women and girls.
  • Mainstreaming FGM prevention strategies into policies and programs that deal with reproductive health, education, and literacy development.

This is where we will end today’s segment of the conference on “Promoting the right of women, a tool to ending Female Genital Mutilation”. We will gladly standby to take your questions. Thank you for staying with us

To learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign, please visit www.endcuttinggirls.org for information.  You may also follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls

Together we will end FGM in this generation.

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TWITTER CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Ending FGM through a Gender equal world: Role of Government. – 26.03.2020

by Anthonia Okoli

Sustainable Development Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda is about ending violence, and discrimination against women and girls and making sure they have equal opportunities as men and boys in all aspects of life. This goal calls for policies for women, and participation by women in political, economic and public life.

In 2015, the government of Nigeria signed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act which listed FGM as a harmful traditional making it a matter of policy that girls are not mutilated.

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 which 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.

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

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). 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 is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who may 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 has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.  

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

The practice of FGM continue to prevail for reasons including; Respect for Tradition, Rite of Passage, Social Convention, Marriageability, Virginity, Fertility, Chastity and Faithfulness, Cleanliness, Femininity, and Religion.   

These reason; chastity, marriageability, etc, spring from the obvious disparity in the rights of women as compared to men. In other words, they are rooted in gender inequality.

For example, a girl is cut to purpotedly keep her chaste for a man that would marry her years later, a man whose chastity no one considers or questions.

Also consider that in some cultures, one of the motivations for cutting for the woman to have minimal sensations during sex, so she does not become unfaithful.

In cases where a woman may have undergone infibulation, some cultures make an event of her marriage night, it would be the night she get’s defibulated and disvirgined. Cut, sewn and cut again for the man’s pleasure.

All of these are shaped to favour the man’s interests with neglible considerations of the harmful effects caused by the practice.

It is my strong believe that achieving gender equality: when women and men can have the same rights and opportunities in any sector of society, both socially and economically should be everyone’s priority. #EachForEqual.

To achieve gender equality, an integrated effort of key players both in public and private sectors, is required, with the government assuming the head boy role. For the purpose of today’s topic, I’d be highlighting only the roles the government should be mandated to play in achieving a gender balanced world.

The roles of the governmeent in achieving gender equality can be summarized in five parts; unlocking the economic potential of women, balancing unpaid care work, increaing legal rights of women, increaing political representation and ending violence against women.

The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) research in 2015 found that globally there are 655 fewer women than men in the labour market.

The government is a major employer of labour and can have a significant impact on women’s employment and economic status by using considerate employment practices that considers the gender roles of women like child birth and maternity.

The government can make policies that ensure that private sectors provide equal opportunities for women as men and that they have a gender balanced workforce.

Ultimately, the government can ensure policies and regulations that create a gender-neutral environment for labour employment, rewards and promotions.

Laws and policies that ensure paid and compulsory paternity and maternity leaves, increase in tax relief for women and child care subsidies should be legislated by the government to encourage a gender balanced labour market.

Holland a country dedicated to attaining gender parity explains, through the government website, that the government is committed to promoting equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities for men and women.

One of the primary objectives of the country’s policy is to strengthen the economic independence of women and to ensure that more and more women have jobs and so are independent.

Governments must take action to improve female representation in elected, administrative and appointed office at all levels in and in all institutions.

Women should have right of inheritance of lands and bonds. The state government can ensure women’s equal access to land, economic and natural resources.

The Governmemnt can establish mechanisms to make it easier for women to obtain legal documents like citizenship for their foreign spouses upon marriage, provide legal aid services that support women in exercising their rights, and guarantee women’s participation in land governance institutions and policy-making processes.

The government should fully mainstream a gender perspective into local legislation, urban planning and policy-making in order to tackle the multiple barriers to women’s empowerment. Only in these ways will women and girls be able to play an equal role in the economic, social, political and cultural life of our cities.

Governments should also be on the frontline of tackling violence and harmful practices against women in every sphere.

1 in 5 women between the ages of 15 and 49 have reported having suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner and many nations are not covered by specific laws to protect women.

Government should ensure the creation and maintenance of public safe spaces, as essential tools in tackling violence against women.

Governments have an important role to play in identifying women and girls affected by violence and providing them with the appropriate support and services to escape it and rebuild their lives.

The 2015 VAPP Act is an example of a tool enabled by the government to curb FGM in Nigeria. Attached is a link to a video of how this helps.

Gender equality is a fundamental human right, it is a prerogative for a peaceful and sustainable world and the world’s governments have the front role seat.

Feel free to comment your feedbacks and ask questions. Thanks for joining me on this episide of our weekly conference. Check out our website www.endcuttinggirls.org for more information and transcripts of previous conferences.

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TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Unleashing Youth Power: amplifying the #EndFGM Campaign in Nigeria through young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) – 06.02.2020.

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, 2020.

N/B: UN official hash-tags and handles for 2020 celebration: #EndFGM #YouthEndFGM and @unicefprotects @GPtoEndFGM

Today, February 6, is a day set aside annually since 2012 by the UN General Assembly as the “International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM” aimed at amplifying efforts towards the elimination of this harmful practice by the year 2030.

With the significant population growth, coupled with the huge potentials of young people, then investing in them becomes very important and indispensable, if we must #Endcuttinggirls within the next 10 years,

For this reason, this year’s International Day is focused on mobilizing youth with the global theme: “Unleashing Youth Power: One decade of accelerating actions for Zero Female Genital Mutilation by 2030.”

Although FGM has been practiced for more than generations, elimination of the practice is high on the international agenda, enshrined as target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the spirit of this year’s celebration, our topic today is “Unleashing Youth Power: amplifying the #EndFGM campaign in Nigeria through young Social Media Advocates (SMAs)”.

In case you are joining us for the first time however, FGM stands for ‘’Female Genital Mutilation”

FGM refers to any procedure that involves “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO, 1997).

There are different forms of FGM, some of which involve more radical excisions in the genital area than others.

FGM has 4 types, Clitoridectomy; Excision; Infibulation; and Unclassified (e.g. “pressing” the clitoris with hot water)

For more information about basic facts about FGM, visit www.endcuttinggirls.org. You can also follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms for constant updates about the EndFGM campaign.

The origin and significance of FGM practice is shrouded in secrecy, uncertainty and fraught with controversy either as an initiation ceremony of young girls into womanhood or to ensure virginity and curb promiscuity, albeit erroneously.

FGM demonstrates deep-rooted gender inequalities and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is also a serious violation of the rights of girls’ health, security, integrity, dignity, and freedom. FGM is not required by any religion and there is no scientific evidence that women who have been mutilated are more faithful or better wives than those who have not undergone the procedure.

It is therefore very clear that there is no known benefit derived from FGM, and possible medical complications includes but not limited to: severe bleeding, cysts, infections, difficulty urinating, issues with childbirth and even death.

For more information, you can visit who.int or watch

Since 2008, UNICEF and UNFPA, have been jointly leading the largest global program to accelerate the elimination of FGM. The program currently focuses on 17 countries in Africa and the Middle East and also supports regional and global initiatives.

Over the years, this partnership has seen significant achievements. For instance, 4,274,271 million girls and women supported by the Joint Programme have benefited from FGM-related protection and care services from 2008 to 2018. At the end of 2017, thirteen (13) countries, where the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme is operating have laws banning FGM, with similar laws pending in three (3) countries.

 As we celebrate this year’s edition of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, it is worrisome to note that in this year 2020 alone, some 4.1 million women and girls around the world are still at risk of undergoing FGM.

Whereas Nigeria has a National FGM prevalence of 20% among women age 15-49years (NDHS 2018), the absolute number of women that have undergone FGM is very high due to its large population. Despite an overall decline in the prevalence of the practice over the last three decades in Nigeria, FGM has persisted and much more therefore needs to be done!

Good enough “Unleashing Youth Power” is at the center of the celebration for this year. Can amplifying the #EndFGM campaign in Nigeria through young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) take us to the next dimension of success?

In November 2015, UNICEF Nigeria launched a social media campaign with the caption “Endcuttinggirls” in order to expand access to information about FGM, and provide visibility for on-going community-level intervention under the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme, the campaign also aims to constantly educate and interact with young people and other stakeholders on the EndFGM campaign.

Consequently, UNICEF supported the formation of a Network of Young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) to manage the Social Media Campaign on behalf of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Program on FGM Elimination. This Campaign began with the training of 35 young people (F-16 & M-19) from six States (Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Imo, Ebonyi, and Abuja), as Social Media Advocates (SMAs) for FGM abandonment. 

Through the young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) initiative, UNICEF Nigeria therefore gave young people the opportunity and platform to unleash their Youth Power towards scaling up efforts to end FGM in Nigeria. These young people have been the driving force behind the #Endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign in Nigeria #EndFGM #YouthEndFGM @unicefprotects @GPtoEndFGM

Between 2015 and now the young SMAs have sustained the #Endcuttinggirls social media campaign which currently appears to be the biggest online campaign going on against FGM in Nigeria.

Today, there are social media handles with the name “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria” on various social media platforms ranging from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. And there is also a website www.endcuttinggirls.org.

With our social media presence, Endcuttinggirls handles have become an #EndFGM mouthpiece and an online information reservoir for the Nigerian internet community.

Our Twitter conferences hold every Thursday from 5-7pm (Nigerian Time) with the discussion hash-tag #Endcuttinggirls and our official twitter handle remains @endcuttinggirls #EndFGM #YouthEndFGM @unicefprotects @GPtoEndFGM

Our Facebook conferences hold on the last Tuesday of each month from 5-7pm (Nigerian Time), from our official Facebook “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria”. And on our Instagram handle “Endcuttinggirls”, is used for sharing informative info graphics and pictures from the campaign.  

We also organize quarterly WhatsApp conferences targeting participants from high FGM prevalence States (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo) in Nigeria, based on the 2013 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey.

Through our Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp conferences, our followers and participants are constantly sensitized on the dangers of FGM and diverse approaches towards eliminating the harmful practice through these social media platforms, the public has also from time to time reached out to us with their FGM-related questions and received clarifications and technical support.

If you visit our YouTube channel “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria”, you can watch the 40 #EndFGM videos that we have produced over the years. They are of high quality, educative, entertaining and insightful. Three new videos of the SMAs will be released today!

These 40 YouTube videos have served and are still serving as #EndFGM sources of information and discussion starters for many people and organisations.

Our website www.endcuttinggirls.org has continued to serve as a central reservoir for FGM related-information and materials for the general public including researchers and advocates.

On several occasions people have alerted us through our social media handles whenever someone in their neighborhood is about to be mutilated, and we have always responded with the relevant agencies to avert such cases of FGM.

Besides the online campaign, the UNICEF-trained young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) are also physically working in the 5 states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo) where the United Nations Joint Program on FGM Elimination is taking place in Nigeria.

The young SMAs at different state levels have also partnered with government agencies and civil societies organizations, supported by UNICEF under the Joint Programme, to document their community interventions such as awareness creation, trainings, public declaration and other FGM-related events.

The young SMAs provide visibility to these events, encourage community members to join the social media campaign, and broadcast these events, real-time, through the #Endcuttinggirls social media handles in order to amplify the events and ensure that people beyond the communities of intervention are aware of the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria.

Together with other stakeholders, the efforts of the SMAs have translated to communities in the 5 states publicly declaring the abandonment of FGM.  More are still being expected to declare in year 2020.

These successes recorded so far through the #Endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign can further be amplified when more, or possibly every, Nigerian young person on social media becomes joins the campaign.  This is possible!

They can join us by searching for the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and then click follow, like our page or subscribe as required on specific social media platforms.

Check out these links to access our handles: Facebook (https://web.facebook.com/endcuttinggirls/), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/endcuttinggirls/), Twitter (@endcuttinggirls), YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyB8f8IM3k2xTsKNfUZf9wg/) and website (www.endcuttinggirls.org). By following our social media handles, you will start getting updates on our activities, you can also share some of our posts and contents on your personal timeline and you will have an opportunity to add your own voice to the campaign.

Beyond the Endcuttinggirls social media campaign, how else can young people unleash their youth power towards accelerating EndFGM efforts.

So the first question is why do we need to engage youth to end FGM? The reasons are below;

  • Youth need to know about issues that affect them, their peers and their communities, including harmful practices such as FGM.
  • Youth can be directly or indirectly affected by FGM and will need information and support.
  • Youth bring energy, passion and a new outlook to efforts to end FGM.
  • Youth advocates are best placed to engage their peers and other youths.
  • Youth are also the driving force of developments to eliminate harmful traditional practices.
  • Youth are the next generation of key actors. Thus, engaging them on FGM will ensure that tomorrow’s policymakers, doctors, midwives, social workers, and parents are informed, responsive, and are advocates of change.

So the second question is how do we get the youths on board? How can we really get them empowered and equipped to be part of this campaign? The strategies are as follows;

  • First, leverage on Secondary schools, religious youth groups/association, community youth groups/associations, age grades, social clubs, and Social media as platforms to reach out to this young people and build their capacity and inspire them to become
  • second, all young girls who are already knowledgeable will take a decision not to submit themselves to be mutilated, especially in communities where teenagers are mutilated. 
  • third, all young girls and boys of today will one day get married. They will also take a decision never to mutilate their daughters.
  • fourth, young people can engage our parents, family members and friends on the need to abandon the practice.
  • fifth, young people should speak out when either they, their siblings, your friend or someone in their neighborhood is about to be subjected to FGM.
  • sixth, young people can become #EndFGM advocates in all associations where they belong to, be it in school, church, community, age grades and social clubs.
  • seven, by signing up to the Endcuttinggirls Social media campaign on various social media platforms, young people can use their own personal social media handles to share some of our contents, and make posts that show their support for ending FGM.

In line with the above strategies, since 2015, the young SMAs across the 5 project states have worked with secondary schools, religious and community youth groups to sensitize young people on FGM,

  • The SMAs build the capacity of the girls to speak out when they are at risk of being mutilated, and let them understand their roles even as young people in accelerating efforts to end the practice.
  • Many of the young people reached in this manner have being doing wonderful #EndFGM works as a direct outcome of their capacity building.

When the youths are well informed and equipped, there are several ways they can unleash their youth power to help solve the problem of FGM. Their creativity and energy will be used to craft innovative ideas to accelerate the change that we seek.

Time has come for young people out there to bring out their youthful energy to lead and scale up this campaign. Why? Because… Youth are the key to change. Youth should be empowered through education and various approaches to bring about behavioural change in their family, communities and society.  Youth should be involved in making decisions in all matters that concern or will affect them. 

As we celebrate today, we have to appreciate every individual, group or organization that have been at the fore front of the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria and the globe at large.

With only a decade remaining for achieving SDG Target 5.3 – the elimination of harmful practices including FGM by 2030 – we need to galvanize the global movement to accelerate efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation. This is why we must engage youth to accelerate the campaing to end FGM.

Thanks for being part of our conversation 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.

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