UNFPA, UNICEF:  World will miss target of ending FGM by 2030

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By Alfred Koroma

In a Joint Statement, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem and UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell  have on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation said the ‘world will miss target of ending FGM by 2030’ if urgent action is not taken. 

The world has only eight years left now to hit the global target of eliminating FGM but latest UNFPA estimates that millions of girls are still at risk of female genital mutilation. This year alone, 4.3 million girls are projected to be at risk of being genitally mutilated.

 And that’s further projected to reach 4.6 million by 2030 as conflict, climate change, rising poverty and inequality continue to hinder efforts to transform gender and social norms that underpin this harmful practice and disrupt programmes that help protect girls.

The heads of the UN agencies say Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a violation of women and girls rights and limits their opportunities for the future in health, education and income, describing  it as an act of gender-based violence that harms girls’ bodies, dims their futures, and endangers their lives.

They however expressed optimism, believing change is possible with collective and well-funded action across a diverse group of stakeholders can end this harmful practice.

They called on the global community to: “Partner with and engage men and boys to shift unequal power relations and challenge the attitudes and behaviours caused by gender inequality that lead to FGM. Integrate gender-transformative approaches and changing social norms into anti-FGM programmes and invest in national-level policies and legislation protecting the rights of girls and women, including the development of national action plans to end FGM.

“Changing gender and social norms that encourage FGM is critical. Men and boys are powerful allies in the effort. Increasingly they are challenging power dynamics within their families and communities and supporting women and girls as agents of change,” the joint statement from UNFPA and UNICEF reads.

The UNFPA-UNICEF global Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM has supported over 3,000 initiatives within the last five years where men and boys actively advocate bringing an end to the practice, the executive directors says, but noting significant opposition from men and boys to FGM in many countries.

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