Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on the 2016 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM
NEW YORK, 5 February 2016 – “FGM is a violent practice, scarring girls for life — endangering their health, depriving them of their rights, and denying them the chance to reach their full potential.
“FGM is widespread. It is a global problem that goes well beyond Africa and the Middle East, where the practice has been most prevalent — affecting communities in Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. And the number of girls and women at risk will only get larger if current population trends continue, wiping out hard-won gains.
“FGM is discrimination. It both reflects and reinforces the discrimination against women and girls, perpetuating a vicious cycle that is detrimental to development and to our progress as a human family.
“FGM must end. In September at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, 193 nations unanimously agreed to a new global target of eliminating FGM by 2030. This recognition that FGM is a global concern is a critical milestone.
“But the recognition, while important, is not enough. To protect the wellbeing and dignity of every girl, we need to take responsibility as a global community for ending FGM.
“That means we need to learn more — improving our data collection to measure the full extent of the practice — and do more. We need to encourage more communities and families to abandon FGM. We need to work with larger numbers of medical communities — including traditional and medical professionals — persuading them to refuse to perform or support FGM. We need to support more women and girls who have undergone the harmful practice and provide them with services and help to overcome the trauma they have suffered. And we need to support and empower girls around the world to make their voices heard and call out to put an end to FGM.
“All of us must join in this call. There simply is no place for FGM in the future we are striving to create – a future where every girl will grow up able to experience her inherent dignity, human rights and equality by 2030.
In Ethiopia, despite a steady reduction in FGM/C nationally over the past decade, still 23 per cent (nearly one out of four) girls between the ages of 0 to 14 undergo this practice (Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) 2011). According to the same source, FGM/C is practiced across all regions in Ethiopia with varying degree with the prevalence in Amhara (47 per cent), Benshangul-Gumuz (24 per cent) and Tigray (22 per cent), Oromia (17 per cent) and Harari (14 per cent). The regions with the highest prevalence rate are Somali (70 per cent) and Afar (60 per cent). The impact of FGM/C in these two regions is severe as the two regions practice the worst form of FGM/C which involves total elimination of the external female genitalia and stitching, just leaving a small opening for urination.
The Government of Ethiopia has taken strategic and programmatic measures to eliminate FGM/C. Some of the key actions include; endorsement of the National Strategy and Action Plan on Harmful Traditional Practices against Women and Children and communication strategy for social norm change and establishment of the National Alliance to End Child Marriage and FGM/C. Moreover, the Government has shown a ground-breaking commitment to end FGM/C and child marriage by the year 2025 at the London Girls’ Summit and reinforced by setting a target to reduce the practice to 0.5 per cent in the Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II).
UNICEF is supporting the Government of Ethiopia in developing a roadmap which defines the long term strategic and programme interventions and the role of different actors, strengthening the National Alliance through supporting the establishment of functional secretariat, enriching the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) module to include better data and consensus building sessions with religious leaders in collaboration with UNFPA and other Alliance members.
UNICEF and UNFPA have been working hand in hand for many areas in Ethiopia for the abandonment of FGM/C. One of the exemplary programme that can be sited is the joint programme on the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Afar Region. The programme has a social mobilization component which includes; facilitated community dialogue, working with religious and clan leaders, youth dialogue targeting in and out of school girls and a care component which involves tracking cases of complications with linkage to health facilities. Also, improving enforcement of the law through increasing legal literacy, strengthening special units in the law enforcement bodies for better reporting and management of cases. The programme has recorded pronounced success in facilitating declaration of abandonment of the practice in 6 districts in Afar Region, and eventually expanding to other districts in Afar and other regions.