LONDON/GENEVA, 6 February 2010 – Over 6,000 communities have chosen to abandon the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), according to a joint United Nations programme designed to eliminate this practice, and the number is growing.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, are partners in a joint effort to end FGM/C, a practice with serious immediate and long-term health effects and a clear violation of girls’ and women’s fundamental human rights.
“We are working in 12 out of 17 priority African countries and have seen real results - the years of hard work are paying off with FGM/C prevalence rates decreasing,” said Nafissatou Diop, Coordinator of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C.
“In Ethiopia, the prevalence rate has fallen from 80 per cent to 74 per cent, in Kenya from 32 per cent to 27 per cent, and in Egypt from 97 per cent to 91 per cent. There is still a lot of work to do.”
Three million girls face FGM/C every year in Africa and worldwide, and up to 140 million women and girls have already undergone the practice.
The UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme, set up in 2008, encourages communities to collectively abandon FGM/C. It uses a culturally sensitive approach, including dialogue and social networking, leading to abandonment within one generation. The programme is anchored in human rights and involves all groups within a community, including religious leaders and young girls themselves. Rather than condemn FGM/C, it encourages collective abandonment to avoid alienating those that practice it and instead bring about their voluntary renunciation.
To mark the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, UNFPA and UNICEF are renewing their commitment to put an end to the practice, and call on the global community to join in this critical effort. They also believe that FGM/C can be abandoned in one generation, which would help millions of girls and women to live healthier, fuller lives.
“Three years into the programme, more than 6,000 communities in Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, the Gambia, Guinea and Somalia have already abandoned FGM/C,” according to a joint statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Social norms and cultural practices are changing, and women and men in communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls. UNFPA and UNICEF are working with partners to end this harmful practice in one generation and we believe that reaching this goal is possible.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Female genital mutilation, also called female genital cutting (FGM/C), refers to the removal of all or part of the female genitalia. Despite global efforts to promote abandonment of the practice, FGM/C remains widespread in many developing countries, and has spread to other parts of the world, such as Europe and North America, where some immigrant families have now settled. The majority of girls who have undergone the practice live in 28 countries in Africa and Western Asia. It has also been reported among certain populations in India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
For background on FGM/C go to http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices4.html
2. The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme will be represented at an event entitled ‘Building Bridges between Europe and Africa.’ The event includes representatives of governments in Africa, Europe and Latin America, several United Nations agencies, other international groups and women who have undergone FGM/C, including Senegalese rap star Sister Fa.
The event is being organized by the IAC (Inter-Africa Committee) on Monday 7 February from 9.00-13.00 at the Centre International de Conférences (CICG), Geneva. For more details or interviews with the Programme Coordinator or Sister Fa, please contact Anne Wittenberg at +41 79 916 88 33, firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
UNFPA - because everyone counts.
For more information, please contact:
Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF Media, New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7162,
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7426,
Omar Gharzeddine, UNFPA, New York,
Tel + 1 212 297 5028,