Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on the 2017 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM
SYDNEY/NEW YORK, 6 February 2017
– “It irreparably damages girls’ bodies, inflicting excruciating pain. It causes extreme emotional trauma that can last a lifetime.
“It increases the risk of deadly complications during pregnancy, labour and childbirth, endangering both mother and child.
“It robs girls of their autonomy and violates their human rights.
“It reflects the low status of girls and women and reinforces gender inequality, fuelling intergenerational cycles of discrimination and harm.
“It is female genital mutilation and cutting. And despite all the progress we have made toward abolishing this violent practice, millions of girls -- many of them under the age of 15 -- will be forced to undergo it this year alone. Sadly, they will join the almost 200 million girls and women around the world who are already living with the damage FGM/C causes – and whose communities are already affected by its impact.
“In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals recognized the close connection between FGM/C, gender inequality, and development – and reignited global action to end FGM/C by 2030.
“In 2016, more than 2,900 communities, representing more than 8.4 million people living in countries where UNFPA and UNICEF work jointly to end FGM/C, declared they had abandoned the practice.
“In 2017, we must demand faster action to build on this progress. That means calling on governments to enact and enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of girls and women and prevent FGM/C.
“It means creating greater access to support services for those at risk of undergoing FGM/C and those who have survived it. It also means driving greater demand for those services, providing families and communities with information about the harm FGM/C causes – and the benefits to be gained by ending it.
“And ultimately, it means families and communities taking action themselves and refusing to permit their girls to endure the violation of FGM/C.
“Let us make this the generation that abolishes FGM/C once and for all – and in doing so, help create a healthier, better world for all.”
Notes to Editors
Key facts on FGM/C:
- FGM/C is a cultural practice with devastating medical, social, emotional, legal and economic repercussions for young girls and women. FGM/C has no medical benefits, violates the human rights of women and girls and jeopardizes their health, rights and overall well-being.
- The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C focusses on protecting women and girls from FGM/C by using a participatory, culturally sensitive and human rights-based approach, as well as caring for survivors.
- UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, estimates the need to invest about $980 million to have a significant impact in tackling FGM/C between 2018 and 2030.
- Globally, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have suffered some form of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in 30 countries.
- While concentrated in Africa, FGM/C is also practised in some communities of Asia, Latin America, and the Arab States. With globalization, girls in diaspora communities around the world are also at risk.
- Since its inception in 2008, the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation has been supporting 17 countries in undertaking holistic and integrated work to end FGM/C. So far:
- 13 countries have created policies and legal provisions and budget allocations to fight against FGM/C.
- More than 1.6 million girls and women have received services for FGM/C through various interventions.
- More than 18,300 communities, comprising about 25.5 million people have disavowed FGM/C.
- In 2016, UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme, working with governments, civil society and communities, achieved the following results:
- Public declarations of abandonment of female genital mutilation were made in 2,906 communities across 15 countries and 10,080 families in Egypt, reaching a total of about 8.5 million people.
- Access to prevention, protection and treatment services was provided for more than 730,000 girls and women.
- Perpetrators were brought to justice and laws enforced: 71 arrests were made, 252 FGM/C cases tried in court with 72 convictions.
- Four countries – Eritrea, Nigeria, Mauritania and Uganda – introduced FGM/C-related budget lines.
- Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, with the highest prevalence of FGM/C among this age in Gambia at 56 per cent, Mauritania 54 per cent and Indonesia where around half of girls aged 11 and younger have suffered the practice.
- Half of the cut women and girls live in three countries - Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
- Countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia (98 per cent), Guinea (97 per cent) and Djibouti (93 per cent). In most of the countries the majority of girls were cut before their fifth birthday.
To observe the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), UNICEF sent a team to Kajiado, Kenya, where female genital mutilation is a common practice. The aim was to create a film showing an authentic dialogue about FGM in communities affected by it. Working with the local chiefs, UNICEF brought together community members on either side of the FGM divide, pairing a person opposed to it with someone who condoned the practice. The pro-FGM individuals did not know they'd be confronted with anti-FGM individuals from their own community. A heated discussion unfolded between the participants on camera, which is completely unscripted.
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