UNICEF and partners commemorate Zero Tolerance for FGM day, launch ‘Saleema caravan’ to rally communities against the harmful practice

05 February 2023
Saleema initiative, female genital mutilation, FGM, Sudan, girls, young people, school clubs, empowerment, zero tolerance day against female genital mutilation
UNICEF Sudan/2023
Saleema champions pose infront of the caravan before it was waved off.

KHARTOUM, 6 February 2023 - Almost 9 in every 10 women in Sudan have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. On International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, UNICEF and partners reiterate the need to end the harmful traditional practice that violates the rights of women and girls. 

The theme of the 2023 commemorations is 'Partnership with Men and Boys to Transform Social and Gender Norms to End Female Genital Mutilation.'

While the prevalence rate of Female Genital Mutilation among girls aged 0 to 14 years and social acceptance of the practice has fallen considerably, many more girls especially in remote areas, remain at risk. 

Over the years, UNICEF, World Health Organization and UNFPA through various initiatives, under the Sudan Free from FGM programme are working closely with partners and communities to create safe environments where girls and women can live free from Female Genital Mutilation.  This programme has received valuable support from the United Kingdom and Canada.

Among the initiatives is the Saleema initiative, launched in 2008. Through the initiative, UNICEF and partners are contributing to efforts towards Female Genital Mutilation abandonment by adding a new discourse to include positive communication approaches with families and communities, including men and boys, as well as promoting usage of new positive terminology to describe the natural bodies and social status of girls and women. 

‘Saleema’ is an Arabic word that means whole, healthy in body and mind, unharmed, pristine and perfect in God-given condition.

This year, UNICEF and partners will join the rest of the world to commemorate the day and officially launch the ‘Saleema caravan’ at Al-Fayha Basic School for Girls located in Haj Yousif neighborhood, Eastern Nile locality, Khartoum state. 

The caravan, led by a team of Saleema champions will traverse select localities in Kassala, North Kordofan and Northern states. Across the three states, the Saleema champions will interact with communities through various activities including awareness-raising sessions, in and out of school youth dialogues, theatrical performances via the interactive theatre groups. They will also encourage young people to join the Saleema Initiative, while sharing critical messages on benefits of keeping girls Saleema.

In 2012, the UN General Assembly designated 6 February as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, with an aim of raising awareness against the harmful traditional practice. 

Media contacts

Owen Watkins
Chief Communication, Advocacy & Partnerships
Tel: +249 (0) 912 177 030
Reem Abbas
Communication Specialist


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