Press Release on the 2019 International Day for Zero Tolerance of FGM.
The UN observes International Day for Zero Tolerance of FGM on the 6th of February yearly as part of UN’s effort to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Experience of FGM increases short and long term health risks to women and girls and is unacceptable from a human rights and health perspective. It is a decision with immediate danger to their health and life-long consequences for their bodies and relationships. It also risks women’s ability to have children successfully and safely, as FGM significantly increases risk of complications for both the mother and their babies. According to WHO, About 120 to 140 million women have been subject to FGM over the years and currently at least 3 million girls are at risk each year.
There is an increasing need for us all to work together in order to build on current work, and mobilize the support needed to stop the cycle. Prevention strategies should be comprehensive with multiple interventions undertaken in order to have long-lasting and permanent effects. All sectors, actors and stakeholders need to join the crusade to end FGM.
While evidence exists on what interventions work to eliminate female genital mutilation; from strengthening the health sector response through legislations, to generating knowledge about the causes and consequences of the practice through training and counselling and developing publications and advocacy tools for international, regional and local efforts to end FGM, much still needs to be done to achieve a society where elimination of FGM is acknowledged. Towards such efforts, we, at HACEY Health Initiative, continue to engage in this global initiative for buoying up the principle of non-violence against women and girls. As part of our contribution, we started the EndFGM Initiative which is an innovative project which targets key community influencers who are identified as major gatekeepers of the FGM culture (community leaders, local excisors, traditional birth attendants, women leaders) in Nigeria. Using human-centred design, we have helped several communities understand the dangers of FGM, walked them through the process of abandoning the practice and we have established anti-FGM group that will continuously work to sustain the impact of our intervention. Our programs have seen young mothers become activists to protect their daughters, local excisors give up their practice to speak against FGM, uncircumcised ladies being accepted socially, circumcised ladies telling their stories as a form of activism and community leaders denouncing FGM.
We urge young women and men to step up and make great impact and in the decision making process as part of the elimination of violence against women. We also believe that elimination strategies should be comprehensive, with multiple interventions undertaken