Promoting men and boys’ engagement in ending FGM in Middle East and North Africa
Research-based programming guidance
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a violation of human rights. Every girl and woman has the right to be protected from this harmful practice, a manifestation of entrenched gender inequality with devastating consequences. Community-level interventions that focus on elimination of FGM through discussions with girls, mothers/grandmothers and community members on the negative impact of FGM, girl’s empowerment and access to services are important. However, in addition, the need to work with men and boys to address harmful masculinities and harmful practices is increasingly being recognized.
Ending patriarchy and challenging restrictive gender norms is not the sole responsibility of girls and women. Engaging boys and men in holistic, comprehensive and coordinated responses is critical to ensure that our programming creatively brings about shifts in the constraints on women and girls.
In this context, UNICEF MENARO commissioned a qualitative research study in four countries: Djibouti, Egypt, Sudan and Yemen. The focus of the study was on boys and men and household decision-making on FGM, sexuality and FGM, and what could be done to engage men more fully in FGM prevention efforts. This regional report summarizes the four country studies and synthesizes country-specific guidance to make programmatic recommendations for the region on how to engage men and boys as partners for change in ending FGM.
Practical guidance emerging from the four country research studies
- Direct specific activities and messages to boys and men
- Address intersectionality with boys and men of different communities, roles and ages
- Ensure a holistic, gender transformative approach to working with men and boys to prevent FGM
- Ensure a multisectoral approach to working with boys and men
- Help men take a stand against medicalization using a variety of strategies
- Identify and expand work with positive deviants, men who reject FGM
- Develop messages about the connections between fatherhood and FGM prevention
- Bring more nuance to work with religious leaders and religious discourse on FGM
- Work to ensure an anti-FGM law/legal framework is in place, recognizing that this is necessary but not sufficient to end FGM
- Increase attention to sexuality and couples’ satisfaction and happiness
- Overcome the power of the silence around FGM
For detailed information on the regional and country specific findings and recommendations, download the regional and country documents.