Facebook Conference

FACEBOOK CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: COVID:19 Era: Roles Women Play in FGM Related Issues -30.03.2021

According to WHO, the term “Female Genital Mutilation” refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Basically, FGM is carried out by different people for so many different reasons. However, various researches have proven that none of these reasons are justifiable. While most people carry out the practice on baby girls few days after birth, others do it during puberty while others even do it before marriage. We have had of communities where women who were not cut during their lifetime must be cut even before they are buried.

There are basically 4 different types of FGM as classified by World Health Organization (WHO). 

FGM Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The 2 subdivisions are, FGM Type Ia: removal of the prepuce/clitoral hood (circumcision) and FGM Type Ib: removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

FGM Type II: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision)

The 3 subdivisions are of FGM Type II are; FGM Type IIa: removal of the labia minora only; FGM Type IIb: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; and FGM Type IIIc: partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora

FGM Type III: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the 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).

The 2 subdivisions are, FGM Type IIIa: removal and appositioning the labia minora with or without excision of the clitoris; and FGM Type IIIb: removal and appositioning the labia majora with or without excision of the clitoris

The last type is the Type IV also known as UNCLASSIFIED refers to all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

FGM of any type is a violation of the human rights of girls and women and is known to be harmful to girls and women in many ways. This practice is strongly rooted in culture and tradition; it has not been an easy task in getting people to abandon the practice despite the harmful effects on girls and women.

FGM is usually carried out by elderly people in the rural communities, healthcare providers and or mothers of these young girls. However, Ending FGM takes work at many levels such as dialogue and action that engages families and communities, protection and care services for girls/women, enforcement of laws, and political commitment at the local, state, national and international levels.

In 2014, the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on elimination of FGM: Accelerating Change (UNJP) commenced in Nigeria, UNICEF has been supporting social norms change interventions in Five focal State; Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo States.

These interventions, being delivered in partnership with government agencies and civil society organisations, include mapping community structures as platforms to drive the community engagements, public fora/community dialogues on FGM abandonment, Other interventions, in Nigeria, include training of EndFGM Community Champions to conduct small group discussions, as well as establishing a state-level and LGA-level coordination structures, called the State and LGA Technical Committees on FGM.  Other interventions include mapping of the existing community structures as platforms to drive the community engagements; public fora and community dialogues on FGM abandonment, training Male Engage Alliance to EndFGM, Community Dialogues and Consensus Building Meetings and conducting educational dialogues and sensitizing men, women and young people about FGM using different settings (schools, churches, health facilities, etc.).

After these interventions, the key stakeholders from the Communities held Consensus Building Meeting and Review Meeting towards a Public Declaration of their decision to abandon FGM in their communities. These consensus building meetings were used to consolidate the impact of the on-going educational dialogues and awareness creation in the five states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo) where the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme is taking place.

Over the years of championing this campaign, women have been pivotal in ensuring that this practice ends. These includes affected women by the practise of FGM, women in power, women with a girl child.

During the onset of COVID-19, we had thought that the global pandemic which encouraged social distancing will limit this practise. However, this wasn’t so and the practise has still continued especially in the aforementioned five states.

We have also recorded good progress with the public declarations dome recently in Ebonyi and Imo State. It is quite shocking that though women and girkls go through the pain of FGM, older women in communities have still remained the cutters. 

Following this, it is important to highlight the roles women (young and old) would play to curb this practise especially in this COVID-19 ERA. 

CREATING AWARENESS

Although much awareness has been made on the need to maintain social distancing and also end FGM, many communities as explained above still practice this painful act since the first lockdown in March, 2020. Because women are predominantly affected, they can help end this practice by engaging in aggressive awareness campaigns in rural communities, where cultural beliefs and societal pressure to conform to existing traditional practices force them to let their girl children go through this excruciatingly painful and medically unnecessary procedure.

Highlighting the harmful health implications of FGM to women in communities where it is practiced, and 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 in changing the mindset of communities that still practice FGM.

ENGAGING SCHOOLS AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS

To end FGM in Nigeria, community based women and women in power must engage with those who can sway communities. Engaging with religious leaders to speak out against FGM in this crucial moment of the country will go a long way to solve two problems (ending FGM and limiting the spread of COVID-19). Nigeria is made up of highly developed and diversified religious groups and much religious leaders are given enormous respect and weight in Nigerian society. Based on the respect they carry, it would be easier for religious leaders to convince parents, community leaders and few health workers who still indulge in this to stop the practice of FGM.

Additionally, women 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.

Young women like Ginika (not the real name), a 19-year-old girl from Imo state, Nigeria, can connect on an interpersonal level with other girls and young women. Here is Ginika’s story:

When I was 9 years old, I went to stay with my grandmother in the village for the holidays. On the third night of my stay, she took me to an elderly woman’s house where I was asked to remove my underwear, lie down and spread my legs. I was afraid but grandma assured me that it was going to be fine. Grandma held my hands and the other woman brought out a razor blade and started cutting. I shouted in pain but grandma held me firmly so I couldn’t break free. I was crying and bleeding but grandma held me still. When the other woman were done, grandma carried me home. I could not walk for days and when I asked her why I was made to go through such painful process, she replied that it was a necessary cultural practice to make me a woman and prevent me from being promiscuous.

Also, women should engage religious leaders to speak about the dangers of FGM. Nigeria is highly religious and much respect is given to religious leaders because they are seen as mouthpieces of God. 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.

SEEK GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

For women to end FGM in Nigeria in one generation, they need the government’s support and strong political commitment to enact strict penalties for those who still practice FGM. This is so because at this time, the government would listen to any covid-19 related discussions and would be glad to hear suggestions that would encourage social distancing.

Women and their women led organisations can lead the way in tackling development, gender, and health issues, and they can lead the way to ending the practice of FGM. We just need to be given the chance.

CHALLENGE THE DISCRIMINATORY GOR WHICH FGM IS PRACTISED

Among the discriminatory reasons FGM is practised is a perceived need to control female sexuality. “The purpose of female genital cutting is to ensure that a girl behaves properly, saves her virginity until she gets married and then stays faithful to her husband.” says Alima, A 70-year old woman from Mali.

“Sometimes, when my husband isn’t home, I’ll sit with my neighbours and we’ll discuss all kinds of things. They think the same way as me about cutting.” Her daughter-in-law Fatoumata, explains.

According to Alima, she thinks the practise of FGM should be stopped. Even if nobody listens to you and just carries on, you have to stand firm and maintain the dialogue. Such an ingrained custom can only be changed through perseverance.

Women need to persevere the more and not be defeated by mere discriminatory words. Women all over the world can learn from the young girl in Ebonyi State that led to the public declaration in her community.

At this point, we have come to the end of the conference and encourage you to also participate in our weekly Twitter conferences and quarterly Whatsapp conference.

You can ask your questions as we have a team on ground eager to answer them. Feel free to tag your friends and see you on the last Tuesday of next month.

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Facebook Conference

FACEBOOK CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Strengthening Community Governance Structures To Abandon FGM And Other Harmful Gender Norms – 29th December, 2020

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

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:  …

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.

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.

 it’s worthy to note that 6000 girls face the risk of genital mutilation daily

 It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated.

There are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

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, 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. 

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. 

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

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=80s  …

Knowing that FGM is a form of harmful social norm and that its embedded in culture is one major reason why”Strengthening community governance structures” will be right step in right directions and would be an important step in ending FGM.

Community as we know is a group that perceive itself as having strong and lasting bonds, particularly when the group shares a geographical location. One measure of community is regular participation by individuals in its activities.

 Another is the strength of identification among members with the perceived social bond of the group. A third is the specific physical space and location that is commonly understood as the group‘s territory.

Community is central to our lives. Historical changes have seen communities change over time and also seen community change social norms over time.

It has been recently noted by certain scholars that governance and social norms have both positive and negative impact on communities.

Community governance has been defined as the combination of rules, processes and structures in operation to secure order…in complex and fragmented societies they help in determination of key policy goals, the design and delivery of related policies, programmes and services.

Strengthening community governance will help to address problems and enhance overall quality of life in the community.

Community ownership is the best way to assure that this campaign becomes a permanent program in the community and this could only be done by strengthening them. .

One of the effective ways to strengthening community governance is to educate them about the harmful effect, consequences of these gender norms

Strengthening community governance would help to contribute to key national goals and to ensure that people’s rights to health are realized. This includes prevention, treatment and care, mitigation of the effects of major diseases and the creation of supportive and enabling environments in which these systems can function.  

It’s important to note that ending Norms like Female Genital Mutilation in a community that has accepted such over years requires input from the entire community and this emphasizes the need to strengthen community governance.

Strengthening community governance would help to identify the root cause of Female Genital Mutilation in their community and why it still persists.

Owing to the fact that members of community government understands the structure of their community Strengthening them would increase their confidence and wherewithal to take actions independently where they can best address a problem and to work with local government to address other challenges.

Because Communities have unique knowledge and cultural experience concerning their communities, strengthening them would help in ending harmful gender based norms.

This is by ensuring that they are shaped by accurate knowledge of what is needed, and based on respect for rights. This will further influence social change and healthy behaviours and ensure community engagement at local, national, regional and international levels.

Strengthening them would make them make good decisions on the abandonment of FGM and other harmful practices.

It’s important to note that Community members are not passive actors in community governance; rather, they are expected to contribute resources to address problems and improve quality of life of every child in the community.

Strengthening community governance could initiative change that could bring about long term effect.

Strengthening community governance would ensure more community engagement that could be about the drastic change such as public abandonment of harmful norms.

Strengthening community governance would bring about change in both community and government policy that could drive the change we desire.

Strengthening community governance would eventually lead to change in Community‐based financial systems, this can enable them own the campaign to

Strengthening community governance would definitely mean community empowerment which is a strategic approach to end any form of gender norms.

Strengthening community governance would help in getting direct feedback from the public where they want to change to happen.

Strengthening community governance would provide a vehicle through which local government can listen to the community and identify what community members think are their most pressing issues to address.

Strengthening community would to create an environment where all members of the community – men, women, the young, the elderly, the poor and the more affluent — can come together to openly discuss the effect of this harmful gender norms.

Furthermore, Strengthening community governance would them Build consensus on public issues such as endcuttinggirls using conflict mediation techniques; this would enable them Create action plans based on community consensus about this harmful gender norms and ways to address them.

This will enable them assist local institutions to mobilize their own resources to focus on these priority needs; they will also Form partnerships with government, NGO, and private sector agencies; this would on the long run Instill community ownership and pride in the change realized such as public abandonment of FGM.

Finally, Achieving change in harmful gender norms is likely to be a slow process. While some harmful gender norms might change quickly, more often, it will take time for new norms to spread across entire communities.

Lack of interest because of inadequate information on harmful gender norms might be a major step back in achieving this.

At this juncture, I will like to stop and I will welcome questions and contributions.

Thank you for joining me, don’t forget to join us again next week Thursday.

To learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign to end FGM, please visit http://www.endcuttinggirls.org  and follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls .

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Facebook Conference

Facebook Conference Script: Strategies In Sustaining Commitments Made After Public Declaration Of FGM. – 28.07.2020

Good evening all and welcome to our monthly Facebook Conference. I am your host for today.

According to @WHO, the term “Female Genital Mutilation” refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

There are 4 Types of female genital mutilation

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.

FGM of any type is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM is known to be harmful to girls and women in many ways.  

The removal of or damage to healthy, normal genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term physical, psychological and sexual consequences.

Through the UNICEF/UNFPA Joint program, the Endcuttinggirls Campaign has worked with several communities across Nigeria to create awareness, sensitize and train relevant stakeholders on the importance of abandoning the practice of FGM.

The campaign has also trained a lot of community members as FGM champions and we have recorded massive progress over the years.

It is worthy of note that some communities have shown more commitment through the public declaration of FGM abandonment in Ebonyi, Ekiti and Imo states.

But again, there are still cases of people who are still carrying out the FGM practices secretly. These set of people still have a very strong connection to the practice either from how they profit from it or how it connects to other beliefs which they hold so dear.

For instance, in some communities, FGM may be an important part of a girl’s transition to adulthood and marriage-ability and may be followed by other things like mark of womanhood and other ceremonies. But in other communities, girls at their young age are made to undergo FGM cutting secretly without any form of celebration or ritual.

The examples above are some of the diversities across various communities that has made it difficult for some of them to maintain the practice even after they have publicly declared the abandonment of FGM practices in their communities.

Again, in many communities, there is a mutual reinforcement and interconnection between religion, culture and tradition. And in most cases, some of the valued beliefs are incorrectly assumed to be mandated by the religious belief too.

Therefore, there is the need to clearly define strategies that can help in sustaining the commitment of people who have denounced the practice entirely. 

To achieve this, we need to identify the roles and connection of other social norms or associated beliefs to the practice of FGM. The truth is that FGM is supported by a set of other beliefs that are interconnected.  This will help to create alternative solutions that can exchange for whatever gap the FGM fills in such communities.

Here are a few Strategies that can help us to ensure that can help us to sustain the commitment of communities who have publicly declared their abandonment for the practice of FGM.

Establishing a Community Based Surveillance Team through Partnering with Community Women’s Associations to protect Girls at risk of FGM in communities that have publicly declared the abandonment of FGM

The Community Women’s Associations (CWA) will establish a Community Surveillance Team (CST) that will carry out the work on behalf of the Community Based Child Protection Committee (CBCPC)

The CWA was chosen because they are in the best position to monitor their pregnant members and intervene to prevent FGM, VAC, VAWG, Promote Birth Registration, and reduce the risk of COVID-

The presence of CWA members in every household, compound, kindred, and village in every community makes them the ideal partner to monitor child protection issues in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

After the training as FGM Monitors, each CST representative will brief their Traditional Rulers on the outcome of the training and inform him the changes to the structure of the CBCPC and the inclusion of integrated child protection messages in their assignment.

The CST representatives will brief their members on the outcome of the training during their monthly meeting and explain the assignment that they are expected to carry out.

They CST representatives will also nominate Monitors in each village (2 persons per kindred) for effective monitoring and reporting.  The trained CST and Village Monitors will be inaugurated by the Traditional Ruler, and start their work immediately.

The CST representatives and Monitors will lead discussions with women at the Community Women’s Association meetings at kindred, village and community levels. 

They will use existing community programmes/structures (e.g. religious meetings; kindred meetings; age grade meetings) to present the integrated messages to the other community members.

Establishing Community Based Child Protection Committees to track and monitor new cases of FGM is another way to ensure sustainability of the FGM public declaration.

The purpose of CBCPC is to coordinate the community-based child protection and response systems at the Community level.

While the CBCPC members can representatives of key stakeholders in the Community including Traditional Ruler’s Council, Women Leader, President-General, Youth Leader, Custodian of culture, Clergy, and any other relevant stakeholder such as community vigilante group

The CBCPC met at the end of each month at the Palace of the Traditional Ruler.  In addition, members are also called, occasionally, as the need arises. 

They can also help in Identifying vulnerable children and trying to understand the reasons or causes of their vulnerability and find solution to it or refer them to appropriate institution.  

CBCPC can also help my monitoring and follow up every child that was given birth after the public declaration in such communities to be sure they are not mutilated.

CBCPC can also track birth record of child born after the public declaration to be sure that they are not mutilated.

They also help to check the activities of other NGO’s or association in the communities.

CBCPC can help in monitoring cross-border FGM, as more people try to avoid prosecution in their own communities by travelling to neighboring communities seeking FGM for girls and women.

CBCPC can also help to monitor and make sure alternative rites of passage agreed during the FGM abandonment are strictly followed.

Also enhancing the partnership between health service providers and community surveillance committee can also help in sustaining the campaign to end FGM in Communities that have publicly declared the abandonment of FGM

To expand the scope of the community surveillance committee, there is need for a partnership with Health care providers at the community level.

A Training programs for these professionals, that should focus on what FGM is, why it is practiced, its health impacts, and ways to prevent it.

Such trainings must also sensitize health care practitioners to the fact that FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s rights to health and conflicts with the “do no harm” principle of medical practice.

These professionals, as a focus of FGM abandonment programs, should be given the opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and think critically about how these views may fuel the continuation of the practice.

After the training, the Health workers should form part of the FGM Community Surveillance Committee to sensitize Pregnant women during antenatal care services on the dangers of FGM.

The Health care workers to also reinforce the message of “Zero FGM” and remind them of the commitment they made during the FGM Public declaration of abonnement. to Nursing Mothers who access immunization services in their facilities.

During the Immunization services, the health care workers can check to see if a baby has been subjected to the practice of FGM Including Type 4 FGM.

While the health care workers focus on sensitizing pregnant women and nursing mothers t their facilities, the Community Surveillance Team will focus on household visit.

This partnership will ensure that both women who visits health facilities for delivery and those who prefer to deliver at home are reached with the message of “zero FGM” and serve as a reminder on the commitment made during the public declaration of FGM abandonment in their community. 

I believe that the above points and many more will greatly contribute to sustaining of various commitments to stay true to their words after declaring their abandonment for the practice of female genital mutilation.

Thank you so much for being part of the conversation. I will now open up the floor for your questions, comments and contributions.

Together, we will end FGM in this generation.

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Facebook Conference

FACEBOOK CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Ending FGM and COVID-19: Role of the Media – 30.06.2020

Host: Cynthia Omo Ade-Martins

Good evening and welcome to the Facebook conference of the Endcuttinggirls social media campaign; a UNICEF supported activity under the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM: Accelerating Change (Phase III) in Nigeria.

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

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are:

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy)

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

Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation). Reinfibulation is covered under this definition as it is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified: this covers all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes. For example, massaging, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

FGM has both short and long term effects on the health and well-being of women and girls. These effects range from severe pain, excessive bleeding, shock, genital tissue, swelling and infections to long terms ones like 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. The practice violates women and girls’ rights to health, security and physical integrity, rights to be free from torture, cruel and in human treatment, and most importantly, rights to life.  

For more information on FGM, please visit our website www.encuttinggirls.org or visit our YouTube channel @Endcuttinggirls Nigeria. You can also look through our other social media handles using the handle @Endcuttinggirls Nigeria.

 Now, let’s take a look at COVID-19. According to the WHO, Coronavirus is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it is important that everyone practices respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).  

Below are a few tips to help prevent the infection and transmission of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol based sanitizer.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and people at all times
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay at home and away from close contact with people if you feel unwell
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs

Mass media have long been recognized as powerful forces in causing a change in society. Technological tools like radio, television, the internet, etc. have been proven to have major impact on human behaviour.

The media can come in handy with the sensitization of people in both urban and rural areas.

The Endcuttinggirls team has used the media as one of its major means of sensitization on the ills and dangers of FGM and it has seen results.  

One of such is the case of a man who after listening to trained social media advocates on Amuludun FM 99.1 Moniya, Ibadan, Oyo state called in on the shows to express his thanks for such enlightening program and promised to stop the cutting of girls in his family.  

Since the advent of COVID-19, lots of media houses (Television, radio and newspapers) have developed jingles and adverts to create awareness on the Coronavirus. Some of these jingles were done in the native languages of people in Nigeria.

Another important form of media is social media. Social media is one of the best ways to share news nowadays especially if you are trying to alert people of something serious in a very quick manner. Social media gets the news where it needs to go.  

One of the best things that have happened across social media platforms is the number of professional athletes, celebrities, and influencers that have spoken up urging people to take everything they see about COVID-19 seriously and follow laid down guidelines. People are more inclined to listen when a public figure shares a message through social media.

With the new social distancing rule that encourages people to stay at home, there has been a spike in the consumption of media content. This means more reach for the End FGM and ChmOVID-19 campaigns.  

Web based video conferencing tools (Zoom, Skybe, Goto Meeting etc) can be effective for programme coordination during this COVID-19 Pandemic. 

In the best interest of girls and women, this transition is important and through this there will be no fear of leaving and girl or woman behind due to restrictions caused by #COVID19.

With everyone working to solve a social norm problem through proper web-based video conferencing, the spread of #COVID19 is also mitigated in the same breath #endcuttinggirls

The TV is just another big opportunity for the campaign to eliminate FGM through the use of drama, skits, musical, jingles and documentaries targeted at sensitizing and educating people on the need to eliminate FGM.

Why the campaign to eliminate FGM should leverage on TV during COVID-19 lockdown.

TV HAS STRONG IMPACT ON VIEWERS: No other medium has the longevity and power to influence than television. More people learn about a new product because of television advertising than any other means. The combination of audio and visual elements offers the amazing capability to reach multiple senses simultaneously.

PEOPLE SPEND MORE TIME WITH TV: Viewers still use the TV screen for the bulk of their viewing and spend more time doing so than all the other platforms combined. Insights gleaned from Nielsen’s fourth-quarter 2016 Comparable Metrics Report found that over 92% of all viewing among U.S. adults happens via the TV screen.

PEOPLE CAN WATCH TV ANYWHERE: Access helps. So does the fact that video is the most preferred content format, especially with millennials. The increasing popularity of tablets and smart phones, access to WiFi and better data plans will continue to facilitate a rise in VOD audiences. Out of Home viewing also occurs via TV monitors in airports, fitness clubs, bars and even at some gas pumps.

TV ATTRACTS LOYAL VIEWERS: Live entertainment, sports and popular serial television shows attract a loyal, attentive audience. Enough to say that appointment viewing is still alive and well.

Reach: Based on the compiled data, TV reaches approximately 70% of a country’s population a day, 90% in a week and nearly everyone in a month. It is the unique combination of this reach together with the huge volume of time spent watching TV that makes it such a powerful form of advertising. For example: In Finland, television reaches 97% of the population within a month.

Popularity:  TV, in all its forms, is the world’s favourite video. On average, based on the available data, TV accounts for 90% of the average viewer’s video time. For the younger millennial audience, who are the most enthusiastic experimenters with all forms of video, it is also the largest proportion of their video time at around 73% of the total. For example: In the Netherlands, TV accounts for 94,4% of all video time for the total population.

Resilience: Over the past decade, TV has proven remarkably resilient in an era of immense disruption. Despite the emergence of new SVOD services such as Netflix and the arrival of online video platforms such as YouTube, TV consumption has remained steadfast around the globe. Life stage also continues to be a significant driver of TV viewing.

Trust and impact: TV is the most trusted form of advertising and remains most likely to make consumers laugh, move them to tears or trigger emotions.

Effectiveness: Advertisers invest in TV advertising because it works. Studies around the world demonstrate TV’s many effects – and the positive impact it has on other media.

Due to its importance, reach and effectiveness, TV have a pivotal role to play in the campaign for the elimination of FGM.

Education is very key in the elimination of FGM because the fact that FGM is a social norm that is deeply rooted in culture and tradition based on myth.

TV stations should rise up to the challenge by promoting awareness of FGM and educating listeners and viewers about the facts of the harmful practise and how to stop it.

Briefly, let’s look into how we can leverage on Television to amplify the campaign for the elimination of FGM during this lockdown session.

Educating and entertaining: To be effective, messaging about FGM must be both educational and entertaining.

TV programmes such as soap opera, drama serial, skits can be created to inform their audiences about the consequences of FGM while, at the same time, achieving market success.

TV stations should talk about FGM: One of the most obvious roles of TV stations is to open channels of communication and foster discussion about FGM and interpersonal relationships.

A live and recorded TV programme that focuses on FGM elimination should be constantly air on TV station. Such programmes may include but not limited to Interviews, phone-in programmes, dairy of survivors where FGM survivors can willing share their experiences.

TV stations can promote FGM services: Collaboration between broadcasters, grass-roots organizations, service providers and government agencies can help to ensure that vital services, such as counselling and even treatment and care of people suffering from the consequence of FGM, are available on the ground. 

Putting FGM on the news agenda and encouraging leaders to take action: Another key area for media involvement in AIDS education efforts is ensuring that the topic is kept at the top of the news agenda.

Giving the harmful practice of FGM prominent news coverage will go along way at creating awareness about the elimination of the practice.

Dedicating airtime/space to FGM public service messages and video skit during favourite TV programmes will help the campaign grow bigger.

Making public service messages and original programming available to other outlets on a rights-free basis.

Participation in live broadcast will bring the message to a wide audience and inform/educate the public about ending FGM.

TV is a great window in our society which helps us to know more information about the world events; by using TV we tend to pass out more information visually which sinks more into memory.

Today information is everywhere. But TV has a particular authority. If you see something on TV, you know that millions of others are also seeing it, and that it has been verified. That’s why television remains the most popular and trusted platform for news, culture, sports and entertainment.

Great television programmes create communities around them. TV shows, live events and news make animated conversation for friends, family and colleagues. They bind people together and trigger reactions on social networks.

Its unrivalled reach and emotional power, television enables effective calls for action during humanitarian crises, natural disasters and social emergencies. It reaches out to society through programmes and communication campaigns on various issues.

Television has powerful visual nature which this powerful visual nature helps television to create vivid impressions in our minds which in turn leads to emotional involvement which makes television more memorable.

That’s as much as we can take on this week’s episode of the conference. You may now send in your questions.

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FACEBOOK CONFERENCE SCRIPT: National Lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and its effect on the campaign to EndFGM

According to UNICEF coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is of a scale most people alive today have never seen. Worldwide, the outbreak is claiming lives and livelihoods as health systems buckle, borders close and families struggle to stay afloat.

Communities across the globe are rising to the challenge – from health workers risking their lives to fight the virus, to young people deploying innovative ways to share public health messages.

Yet, even as the spread of the virus slows in some countries, its social toll will come fast and hard. And in many places, it will come at the expense of the most vulnerable children.

Without urgent action, this health crisis risks becoming a child-rights crisis. Disruptions to society have a heavy impact on children: on their safety, their well-being, their future. Only by working together can we keep millions of girls and boys – including those who have been uprooted by conflict, children living with disabilities and girls at risk of violence – healthy, safe and learning. Most especially Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has affected the social and economic wellbeing of generations of Girls/Women. Globally, many endFGM campaigns have been introduced to help end this harmful traditional practice. Yet, even in the efforts to arrest these harmful cultural practices, not all actors share in this vision.

In some FGM practicing communities, disparate voices continue to champion continuation of harmful cultures rather than advancing human rights of Girls/Women. These factions seem to take advantage of emergency situations such as COVID-19 pandemic to perpetuate such harmful practices.

In situations of conflicts and disaster, FGM practices present a life-threatening, health and human rights challenge. In cases of FGM, a survivor has no choice to refuse or pursue other options without severe social, physical, or cultural consequences. In emergencies, these consequences border on extreme intolerance or ethno-terrorism. This includes social sanctions such as being ostracized or suffering psychological abuse.

It includes invoking of cultural sanctions that can border on, being cursed and excommunication. It also comes with threats of physical harm such as death threats or risk of violence being verbally communicated or actualized. All of these constitute a violation of international human rights law and principles of gender equality as well as State/National laws prohibiting the practice of FGM in Nigeria.

Measures have been taken by  various Countries and states, going from total lockdown to less restrictive measures depending on the local situation. We can say that unfortunately the current situation may have an effect on the Campaign to end FGM.

In particular, FGM support services are not considered as a medical emergency and a lot of facilities are closed and will remain so for at least several more weeks. Medical staff have rightly been re-allocated to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak or encouraged to avoid any non-urgent medical care for now. As a result, many FGM survivors and Girls/women at risk in general are left without any access to needed medical care.

For many women and children, the home is not a safe place. UNFPA released its paper on ‘COVID-19: a gender lens’, explaining how women are specifically effected by this pandemic: “Pandemics compound existing gender inequalities and vulnerabilities, increasing risks of abuse. In times of crisis such as an outbreak, women and girls may be at higher risk, for example, of intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence due to heightened tensions in the household. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

They also face increased risks of other forms of gender based violence including sexual exploitation and abuse in these situations. For example, the economic impacts of the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, placed women and children at greater risk of exploitation and sexual violence. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

In addition, life-saving care and support to gender based violence survivors (i.e. clinical management of rape and mental health and psycho-social support) may be cut off in the health care response when health service providers are overburdened and preoccupied with handling COVID-19 cases. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

Systems must ensure that health workers have the necessary skills and resources to deal with sensitive gender-based violence related information, that any disclosure of gender based violence be met with respect, sympathy and confidentiality and that services are provided with a survivor centered approach. It is also critical to update gender based violence referral pathways to reflect changes in available care facilities and inform key communities and service providers about those updated pathways. ”, in a moment when #stayathome has become the new general rule. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

“Systems that protect women and girls – including community structures – may weaken or break down, specific measures should be implemented to protect women and girls from the risk of intimate partner violence with the changing dynamics of risk imposed by COVID-19”. https://www.unfpa.org/resources/covid-19-gender-lens

Before we close, we would like to share a brief overview of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for the benefit of those joining our tweet conference for the first time.

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.

  1. 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.
  • a 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 & 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 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% (NDHS 2013). 

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

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. 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.

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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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