Putting an End to Female Genital Mutilation

Today marks the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Each year February 6th is spent by leading NGOs and international aids organizations spreading awareness about the devastating cutting practice that puts three million girls in both east and west Africa as well as Arab countries at risk of undergoing FGM.

An estimated 101 million girls have undergone FGM in Africa and while there are many communities in Africa that continue the practices many are renouncing FGM. In fact 36% of girls between the ages of 15 – 19 in Africa (concentrated in 29 countries) are at risk of FGM as opposed to 53% of women between the ages of 45 – 49 who have already undergone FGM. The numbers are decreasing according to the UNFPA.

“Senegal is going way out front to tackle FGM,” said Lynne Featherstone, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development and Champion for the elimination of violence against women during a Google+ Hangout today. “It seems to me to be a good example of behavior change. We have an ambition to end FGM in a generation.”

“UNFPA and UNICEF have an institutional approach to ridding the world of FGM,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. “Since 2008 that joint program has seen at least 10 thousand communities in these countries denounce FGM.

Osotimehin also said that 88,000 health providers have been trained so that they can work in health centers and educate traditional communities about the dangers of FGM.

Despite the increased awareness and lowering of FGM rates Osotimehin said, “I think there is a lot more to do. We need to invest more domestically and internationally. We need to work more with governments on the ground. We need to stigmatize FGM. We can achieve it. If we don’t there are 30 million girls who are still at risk for FGM.”

Learn more about female genital mutilation and how you can help at www.endfistula.org.

Photo Credit: United Nations

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