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Be the generation that ends FGM

Sandie Okoro's picture
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© UNFPA
© UNFPA

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is an everyday reality for millions of girls and women around the world. I am no longer shocked when a woman confides in me that she has been “cut,” or tells me the consequences she lives with. Recently, I have had the privilege to meet with FGM survivors who are also activists, and they are fighting to stop the practice in a generation, reminding me that one person can make a difference in ending FGM. 

As we mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, on Feb. 6, we are supporting #EndFGM, a survivor-led movement gaining momentum and power around the world.

FGM/C, known as cutting, is a form of violence affecting at least 200 million girls and women worldwide. Every day, about 6000 women and girls suffer the practice, enduring prolonged and irreversible consequences during their entire lives

FGM/C is inextricably linked with ending extreme poverty; girls who experience it are more likely to be forced into child marriage, more likely to be poor and stay poor, and less likely to be educated. Beyond the data and the statistics, researchers have shown that FGM deprives women of sexual health and psychophysical well-being. 

This is what Jaha Dukureh, an FGM/C survivor and activist, called “planned poverty for girls,” and a map for its entrenchment. Dukureh joined other FGM/C survivors and activists who spoke at a recent World Bank Group event, “Ending FGM: The Role of Laws, Education and Social Norms.” 

Dukureh, who was “cut” at the age of one month, began to understand the consequences of this trauma when she married at age 15, she said at the event.  Survivors like Dukureh are at the forefront of this burgeoning international movement to end the practice. 

Activists and NGOS are leading the fight. Tostan, a nonprofit operating in rural Senegal, is accelerating the movement to end FGM/C. Tostan uses an integrated, holistic approach of informal education to empower communities by teaching them about vision and values, democracy, human rights and responsibilities, problem-solving, hygiene and health. Tostan’s longer term approach offers opportunities for community members to consider alternative aspirations and norms. 

We believe that legislation and girls’ and women’s knowledge of their rights under the law are the first steps in the fight to #EndFGM. 

To this end, the World Bank Group’s Legal Vice Presidency has launched a new document that provides a survey of key international and regional instruments that address FGM/C, as well as national legislations adopted to outlaw FGM/C. The “Compendium of International and National Legal Frameworks on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting” is a working document prepared to contribute to this urgent development debate, with the understanding that knowledge of the law is an important empowerment tool to end FGM/C.

We hope it responds it to the needs of those interested in this subject, as well as those who work with women and girls affected or at risk. It is intended as a reference tool for development practitioners, lawyers, community leaders, survivors, academics, researchers and students, as well as anyone interested in helping to end the practice.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging the international community to intensify global efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting. It also called upon “States, the United Nations system, civil society and all stakeholders to continue to observe 6 February as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM/C and to use the day to enhance awareness raising campaigns and to take concrete actions against female genital mutilations.”

World Bank President Jim Kim spoke against FGM in 2014, stating that “as a physician, I recognize the terrible suffering. As an anthropologist, I see it is embedded over time, but absolutely changeable.”

We want to make that change happen. We can be the generation that ends FGM for good. 

Comments

Submitted by Isabella Micali Drossos on

Thanks Sandie for your strong support and for your leadership in the fight against FGM. We are in a hurry if we want to see this disappear in 2030. Things evolve, of course, but too slowly. If we maintain the current trend, we will have 270 million women and girls cut by 2030. The world cannot afford that. Definitely, we want to be the generation that ends FGM !!!

Submitted by Solange on

Isabella, Kudos for your early open and consistent engagement to ending FMG since the time the Bank started lending for HIV/AIDS in the late 90's, manifesting itself in your careful recommendations that this topic be approached in the palette of solutions proposed under Projects, be it in education, nutrition, health etc. You are a pioneer !! YES, leadership is required to end FGM , selective abortions, intra-family nutritional inequality and all other impediments to women's well being and contribution to development. Thanks for Sandie's support as well in campaigning to help in stopping these debilitating practices through awareness, and evolving legal and customary frameworks.

Submitted by Isabella on

Merci, Solange ! You too are a true believer and need to be thanked for your support and guidance !

Submitted by Rita Pasi on

Sandie, thank you for your blog, your leadership, and for LEG's compendium of international and regional instruments that address FGM/C. Everything we can do as the WBG is important to increase awareness and mobilize support to end this brutal and debilitating practice. More, as your blog says, everything we can do as individuals makes a difference to this generation and many generations to come. I definitely want our generation to be the one that ends FGM/C!!!

Submitted by Deepak Kumar on

Many thanks Sandie to lead this mission to end FGM.
I hope and wish all the leaders, civil societies and other partners come forward to end this menace from our society.
End FGM now !!.

Submitted by Philana Mugyenyi on

Thank you Sandie for shining a light on this important message. Unfortunately many believe FGM ends once it is outlawed, but so much needs to be done to tackle the issue when it goes underground, or in some cases anti-FGM laws are not enforced. Changing mindsets is necessary but very difficult. Our generation should be the one to end FGM/C once and for all - let us know how we can get involved to support LEG in this important area.

Submitted by Sofia Badari on

Thank you, this is a really important project. I hope one day all this sufferance will come to an end.

Submitted by Mike Toman on

We had the privilege of Q&A with Jaha Dukureh after the showing of a deeply moving documentary about her work in The Gambia during the End FGM event. In the Q&A, Ms. Dukureh made the point stated by Sandie Okoro's blog about the necessity of laws against this practice, with women and girls being well informed about their legal rights. However, Ms. Dukureh also underscored the critical need for work by LOCAL NGOs that support victims of FGM, and that seek to change hearts and minds of men and women about the moral necessity for FGM to end. (To that end, men play a significant role in the activities of her own NGO in The Gambia, Safe Hands for Girls.) A quick look through the list of eligible recipients for 2017's Community Connections Campaign did not turn up any organizations stating that ending FGM is part of their mission, though perhaps some do work on that. It would be terrific if locally grounded organizations focused specifically on ending FGM could be on the 2018 list.

In the documentary, Ms. Dukureh says that even taking into account obstacles like the gap between legal requirements and enforcement, her aim has been to see a real end to FGM in The Gambia within 10 years. The WBG is committed to ending deep poverty by 2030. What about setting 2030 as the year for a real end to FGM as well, and scaling up support to front line organizations as needed to achieve that?

Submitted by Roxana Allen on

Thank you Isabella and Sandie for your leadership. I read the UNICEF projections by 2050 at https://data.unicef.org/resources/zero-tolerance-female-genital-mutilation/
I did a quick math and by 2050 about 10% from total female population will be FGM women. So the number of FGM women will almost double in 30 years. With global migration, probably all 193 countries will have to deal with the FGM issue by 2050.

Submitted by AZUBUIKE ACHOSON EHORO on

For the total eradication of FGM by the year 2030.More efforts is still needed especially in third world countries like NIGERIA.Yes,government in its little effort still can not do much because some of those who implement and executive laws are from one tribe or the other, that attach so much values to FGM.At that level it become very difficult to achieve some good levels of compliance.But I think with the effort of International organizations and the NGO in synergy with the Local NGo's it is achievable.We on our own part, we put the local authorities on their toes to ensure compliance to best international practices so as to reduce FGM.Even though,they will tell you that it is tied to their traditions and their believe system.

Submitted by Khem Raj Sedhai on

FGM is one of the most urgent issues to be dealt. We cannot imagine such an inhuman treatment.

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