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Press release

UNICEF thanks Italian government for 1.8 million euro donation

Donation Will Help Protect Millions of Children from Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting

NEW YORK, 18 June 2004 – UNICEF today thanked the Italian government for a 1.8 million euro donation aimed at putting an end to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), a procedure that is still performed on some 2 million girls each year. 

“This is a very welcome and important contribution to UNICEF’s efforts towards stopping this harmful practice.  FGM/C is not only a violation of every child’s rights, it is physically harmful and has serious consequences for the health of millions of girls and women” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. 

To date over 100 million women and girls around the world have suffered from some form of FGM/C, a procedure that causes irreparable physical harm.  It can also cause psychological harm and can be potentially life threatening.  The procedure is mainly performed on children and adolescents between six and fifteen years of age.  In some countries, however, up to half of FGM/C is performed on infants under one year old.

The donation from the Government of Italy will help UNICEF in its efforts to end FGM/C.  Doing so is part of UNICEF’s commitment to building a protective environment for children which allows them to live in safety and dignity.  In order to prevent and respond FGM/C, UNICEF believes all levels of society-from the family and community to governments need to play a part.   

At the 2002 UN Special Session on Children, governments committed themselves to ending FGM/C by the year 2010. “UNICEF salutes the Italian Government for putting resources behind the promise to end FGM/C” Bellamy said.  “We hope that this donation will energize others to mobilize their efforts to meet the promise of ending FGM/C by 2010.”

For background information:

The Italian Government is among the top 10 donors to UNICEF.

In Senegal, UNICEF supported a local NGO which helped create a social movement against genital cutting. The movement has now reached 1367 communities representing 20% of the practicing population in Senegal.

In Egypt , UNICEF developed a four year Plan of Action to combat FGM/C with activities in governatorates in both lower and Upper Egypt.   

In Burkina Faso, UNICEF helped secure the passage of legislation that criminalizes FGM (with sentences ranging from 6 months to 10 years and fines of up to $1,800).

In Sudan, UNICEF works with all levels of civil society as well as with religious leaders to de-link the practice from religion.

In Kenya, UNICEF developed a three-year project with Italian funds based on rights-based approach to development programming.
In Eritrea, UNICEF works to reach both school-aged children and men.  Young people have been trained as advocates against the practice and anti-FGM school clubs have been established in all regions.

In Somalia, UNICEF supported the "training-of-trainers" bringing together health workers, teachers, communication professionals, women's NGO representatives and religious leaders for the eradication of FGM.

Djibouti, Mali, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Guinea Bisseau, Ghana are also working towards the abandonment of  FGMC. 


For more information, please contact:

Jehane Sedky-Lavandero, UNICEF Media New York, 212 326 7269
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 158 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, 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. 




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