TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: COVID-19 and EndFGM: Sustaining programme activities through Social Media

Date: June 18, 2020

Anchor: @_chzy (Lauryn Dunkwu)

WHO estimates that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone #FGM and continue to live with the negative consequences of this violating procedure. Further estimates by UNICEF (2016) show that 3 million girls around the world are at the risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. 

FGM is a form of violence against women and children is frequently practiced as traditional rites across many different cultures. Often as a part of traditional beliefs, FGM is wrongly practiced as a means to beautify women sexually and equally wrongly assumed to preserve virtue.

Many different forms of Female Genital Mutilation are practiced across cultures. FGM typically includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, all of which are practiced in Nigeria. They include:

FGM Type 1 is defined as the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The subgroups of Type 1 FGM are: type 1a, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type 1b, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

FGM Type 2 entails the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type 2a, removal of the labia minora only; type 2b, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type 2c, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.

FGM Type 3 involves the narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

FGM Type 4 is also known as unclassified and involves all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

The FGM Type 4 also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Africa including Nigeria.

FGM is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who may have other roles in the community, such as Traditional Birth Attendants. In other instances, willing medical professionals are be sought out by parents to have the procedure carried out on their daughters.

FGM has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.

The practice of FGM continue to prevail for reasons including; Respect for Tradition, Rite of Passage, Social Convention, Marriageability, Virginity, Fertility, Chastity and Faithfulness, Cleanliness, Femininity, and Religion.  

For more information about FGM you can visit http://new.endcuttinggirls.org/ or https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation.  

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a growing concern in the world, and is classified as a violent act against the girl child, violating the human rights of individuals. 

As part of any campaign in recent times, it is important to consider the unique perspective social network provide in achieving a goal

The UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM in Nigeria promotes transformation of social norms, and social media platforms are visual tools that we can utilize to foster social reflexivity and reshape attitudes towards protection of the girl child.  

It is therefore beneficial to any behavioural and policy intervention campaign, to have a sound understanding of the intricacies of social media.

The current state of affairs around the world with the #COVID-19 pandemic has geared our daily activities towards increased virtual interactions.

As a mean to ensure safety from becoming infected with #COVID-19, we have been correctly advised to adhere to safety precautions. Some of such precautions include proper mask use, regular washing of hands and/or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and conscious physical distancing at all times

We must also acknowledge that despite the pandemic and the resulting halt/slow down of economic activities, many harmful practices including FGM continue to be practiced. It is important that efforts to curtail such harm practices do not become stagnated by the recent events around the world and in Nigeria.

There is a constant need for active engagement with communities, leaderships and key influencers to ensure young girls and women are protected from the practice of FGM through this period of the pandemic and afterwards.

Through social media, we can showcase activities, inspire people, raise funds, reach a broader audience, and demonstrate the impact of intervention programmes such as the  campaign

I will share some tips for utilizing social media as a key tool towards ending FGM.

Use Images: make posts with images and infographics as they are more likely to be noticed and cascaded to wider circles. The  YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyB8f8IM3k2xTsKNfUZf9wg/videos shares a collection of clips from interventions in Nigeria, and is a great source of clips for your posts.

Tags: it is important to mention the key figures involved in the #EndFGM campaign. It is also important to be tactful with tagging so as not to spam people.

Simple Language: a lot of campaigns contain technical terms that may not be easy for the public to understand. We must ensure that our key messages are transmitted in the easiest formats for understanding.

Correctness: While we push for authenticity, we should ensure that we share facts backed with evidence; always proof-read  

Data: Analytics are a key part of driving success in any business and the same is true for interventions via social media. It is useful to understand your key demographics and what interests them; utilize free analytics software to achieve this.

Consistency and Timing: Note what periods have the most activities on your preferred social media platform; remain consistent in patterns of sharing and engaging with your contacts.

Furthermore, there are simple guidelines to follow when joining the fight to  via social media

  • Follow the Do No Harm Guidelines to protect women and girl from unintended harm from your communications work. You can find the guideline at https://www.unicef.org/cwc/cwc_58682.html
  • Celebrate positive changes in your campaign. It is encouraging to know that change is possible and simple actions can go a long way in achieving that
  • Be sure that your words do not offer criticism of religions, ethnic groups, and cultures, but rather focus on the practice of FGM and its harmful outcomes
  • Be sure to get consent before sharing multimedia content and stories featuring people. Ensure that the people are aware of the context (#EndFGM) for which you would be using their images. You can find relevant consent forms at https://www.thegirlgeneration.org/resources/girl-generation-resource-centre 
  • Share positive messages of girls and women; it is pertinent that we continuously push the narrative that women and girls can be educated, healthy, and happy.

As we stay safe through the #COVID-19 pandemic, we must continue to push for behavioural change and for a review of our community norms.

John Guare quotes, “I am bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people”. Through social media, campaigns to #EndFGM like  can easily disseminate information to “trails of six people” who each cascade to their own trails.

At this point, I will stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions.

Thanks for being part of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our  www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media platforms.  @Endcuttinggirls

Together, we will end FGM in this generation.

TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: COVID-19 and EndFGM: Amplifying campaign messages through Television programmes

By Dare Olagoke-Adaramoye (@dareadaramoye)

10.06.2020

Girls are frequently caught in a cross-cultural mesh of tradition of female circumcision and an increasing backlash against the dangers and violations of the practice.

The media- Television provides a space for discussion, entertainment, education, sharing of experiences, access to resources and help for girls who have undergone FGM or may be at risk.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with or at risk of suffering the associated negative health consequences of FGM.

Every year 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to the potential negative health consequences of this harmful practice.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM into 4 types. WHO classifies FGM/C into four categories with subdivisions.

FGM Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The 2 subdivisions are, FGM Type Ia: removal of the prepuce/clitoral hood (circumcision) and FGM Type Ib: removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

FGM Type II: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision). The 3 subdivisions are of FGM Type II are; FGM Type IIa: removal of the labia minora only; FGM Type IIb: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; and FGM Type IIIc: partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora.

FGM Type III: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

The 2 subdivisions are, FGM Type IIIa: removal and appositioning the labia minora with or without excision of the clitoris; and FGM Type IIIb: removal and appositioning the labia majora with or without excision of the clitoris.

FGM has no known health benefits, and those girls and women who have undergone the procedure are at great risk of suffering from its complications throughout their lives.

FGM of any type is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM is known to be harmful to girls and women in many ways.

The removal of or damage to healthy, normal genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term physical, psychological and sexual consequences. Results show that when women’s and girls’ human rights are reinforced and legally protected, FGM declines or is abandoned altogether.

FGM is global, but so is the movement to end it.

“At a time when the Africa-led momentum to end FGM is growing, it is vital that we do not lose the opportunity to protect more girls and women from this huge violation of their rights especially during this global pandemic caused by COVID-19.”

“Change can happen through sustained media attention on the damaging public health consequences of FGM, as well as on the abuse of the rights of hundreds of thousands of women and girls around the world,”

For society at large, the Television plays a crucial role in bringing FGM into the public consciousness and opening dialogue with the ultimate aim of helping to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of young girls.

Electronic media is defined as broadcast or storage media that take advantage of electronic technology. They may include television which is our focus for today, radio, Internet, fax, CD-ROMs, DVD, and any other medium that requires electricity or digital encoding of information.

Television (TV) is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound.

The term can refer to a television set, a television program (“TV show”), or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Television became available in crude experimental forms in the late 1920s, but it would still be several years before the new technology would be marketed to consumers.

Television consumption has for decades constituted a major part of media consumption in Western culture. According to a Nielsen report, United States adults are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day on average (35.5 h/week, slightly more than 77 days per year).

With the latest evolution of technology and lockdown due to COVID-19, most television stations now work for over 12hours per day. Some work for 24hours each day!

TV stations now stream online and a whole lot of them are migrating to cable network entertaining people with information, news, commercial, musicals, drama and lots more.

The TV is just another big opportunity for the campaign to eliminate FGM through the use of drama, skits, musical, jingles and documentaries targeted at sensitizing and educating people on the need to eliminate FGM.

Why the campaign to eliminate FGM should leverage on TV during COVID-19 lockdown

TV HAS STRONG IMPACT ON VIEWERS: No other medium has the longevity and power to influence than television. More people learn about a new product because of television advertising than any other means.The combination of audio and visual elements offers the amazing capability to reach multiple senses simultaneously.

PEOPLE SPEND MORE TIME WITH TV: Viewers still use the TV screen for the bulk of their viewing and spend more time doing so than all the other platforms combined. Insights gleaned from Nielsen’s fourth-quarter 2016 Comparable Metrics Report found that over 92% of all viewing among U.S. adults happens via the TV screen.

PEOPLE CAN WATCH TV ANYWHERE: Access helps. So does the fact that video is the most preferred content format, especially with millennials. The increasing popularity of tablets and smart phones, access to WiFi and better data plans will continue to facilitate a rise in VOD audiences. Out of Home viewing also occurs via TV monitors in airports, fitness clubs, bars and even at some gas pumps.

TV ATTRACTS LOYAL VIEWERS: Live entertainment, sports and popular serial television shows attract a loyal, attentive audience. Enough to say that appointment viewing is still alive and well.

Reach: Based on the compiled data, TV reaches approximately 70% of a country’s population a day, 90% in a week and nearly everyone in a month. It is the unique combination of this reach together with the huge volume of time spent watching TV that makes it such a powerful form of advertising. For example: In Finland, television reaches 97% of the population within a month.

Popularity:  TV, in all its forms, is the world’s favourite video. On average, based on the available data, TV accounts for 90% of the average viewer’s video time. For the younger millennial audience, who are the most enthusiastic experimenters with all forms of video, it is also the largest proportion of their video time at around 73% of the total. For example: In the Netherlands, TV accounts for 94,4% of all video time for the total population.

Resilience: Over the past decade, TV has proven remarkably resilient in an era of immense disruption. Despite the emergence of new SVOD services such as Netflix and the arrival of online video platforms such as YouTube, TV consumption has remained steadfast around the globe. Life stage also continues to be a significant driver of TV viewing.

Trust and impact: TV is the most trusted form of advertising and remains most likely to make consumers laugh, move them to tears or trigger emotions.

Effectiveness: Advertisers invest in TV advertising because it works. Studies around the world demonstrate TV’s many effects – and the positive impact it has on other media.

Due to its importance, reach and effectiveness, TV have a pivotal role to play in the campaign for the elimination of FGM.

Education is very key in the elimination of FGM because the fact that FGM is a social norm that is deeply rooted in culture and tradition based on myth.

TV stations should rise up to the challenge by promoting awareness of FGM and educating listeners and viewers about the facts of the harmful practise and how to stop it.

Briefly, let’s look into how we can leverage on Television to amplify the campaign for the elimination of FGM during this lockdown session.

Educating and entertaining: To be effective, messaging about FGM must be both educational and entertaining.

TV programmes such as soap opera, drama serial, skits can be created to inform their audiences about the consequences of FGM while, at the same time, achieving market success.

TV stations should talk about FGM: One of the most obvious roles of TV stations is to open channels of communication and foster discussion about FGM and interpersonal relationships.

A live and recorded TV programme that focuses on FGM elimination should be constantly air on TV station. Such programmes may include but not limited to Interviews, phone-in programmes, dairy of survivors where FGM survivors can willing share their experiences.

TV stations can promote FGM services: Collaboration between broadcasters, grass-roots organizations, service providers and government agencies can help to ensure that vital services, such as counselling and even treatment and care of people suffering from the consequence of FGM, are available on the ground.

Putting FGM on the news agenda and encouraging leaders to take action: Another key area for media involvement in AIDS education efforts is ensuring that the topic is kept at the top of the news agenda.

Giving the harmful practice of FGM prominent news coverage will go along way at creating awareness about the elimination of the practice.

Dedicating airtime/space to FGM public service messages and video skit during favourite TV programmes will help the campaign grow bigger.

Making public service messages and original programming available to other outlets on a rights-free basis.

Participation in live broadcast will bring the message to a wide audience and inform/educate the public about ending FGM.

TV is a great window in our society which helps us to know more information about the world events; by using TV we tend to pass out more information visually which sinks more into memory.

Today information is everywhere. But TV has a particular authority. If you see something on TV, you know that millions of others are also seeing it, and that it has been verified. That’s why television remains the most popular and trusted platform for news, culture, sports and entertainment.

Great television programmes create communities around them. TV shows, live events and news make animated conversation for friends, family and colleagues. They bind people together and trigger reactions on social networks.

Its unrivalled reach and emotional power, television enables effective calls for action during humanitarian crises, natural disasters and social emergencies. It reaches out to society through programmes and communication campaigns on various issues.

Television has powerful visual nature which this powerful visual nature helps television to create vivid impressions in our minds which in turn leads to emotional involvement which makes television more memorable.

At this point, we will draw the curtain on this session, as we invite you to ask questions and make contributions. #COVID19 #endcuttinggirls

Please when asking your question, remember to use the hashtag  and to tweet at @endcuttinggirls

For more information about Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting, visit our website: www.endcuttinggirls.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using @endcuttinggirls

Follow our Conversations and updates on UNICEF end FGM Community level activities across the 5 focal states (#Osun, #Ebonyi, #Ekiti, #Imo and #Oyo) using #endcuttinggirls.

TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: COVID-19 and EndFGM: Partnering with Radio Stations to disseminate campaign message

by Ademola Adebisi @Adexconsult

Thursday 4th June 2020

Based on previous experience in responding to humanitarian crises including outbreaks, the COVID-19 pandemic will compound existing gender inequalities and increase the risk of different forms of gender-based violence (GBV).

The protection and promotion of the rights of girls and women should be prioritized during this pandemic. 

Where movement is restricted and people are confined, priority should be given to ensuring access to prevention, protection and care services, including psychosocial support, and adapting community-based surveillance systems for girls and women at risk of and affected by female genital mutilation, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Female genital mutilation risk mitigation and response should be integrated in GBV and child protection COVID-19 preparedness and response plans.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030, will be disrupted, and an estimated 2 million additional cases of female genital mutilation will need to be averted.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. 

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads.

Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments).

World Health Organization will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available?

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

Most common symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever, dry cough, tiredness).

Less common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • aches and pains.
  • sore throat.
  • diarrhoea.
  • conjunctivitis.
  • headache.
  • loss of taste or smell.
  • a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.  @WHO

Serious symptoms of COVID-19 include: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure and loss of speech or movement

Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms.  Always call before visiting your doctor or health facility also People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home.

On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days. 

The health impacts of violence, particularly intimate partner/domestic violence or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on women and their children, are significant.

In these times of lockdown and constant need for up-to-date information, the Radio remains the most essential means of ensuring that community members learn about #COVID-19 and FGM.

The radio plays an essential role in communication today by remaining available when other communication mediums, such as television and Internet, are rendered inaccessible by weather or other interference.

A battery-powered radio is considered by many experts to be the most essential communications device an individual can possess.

The Radio is a universal and versatile medium of communication that can be used for the benefit of society during this pandemic.

Radio has been used, worldwide, to encourage positive individual behaviour change and constructive social change

a. Radio can bring exciting, entertaining dramas into the homes and lives of millions of listeners, jingles and dramas that engage listeners’ emotions while informing them of new ideas and behaviours that can improve their lives and communities

Drama and Jingles for social change is special, because it aims to entertain and motivate positive behaviour change in the audience

One of the most effective uses of radio for social change is “Enter-Educate or entertainment-education” serial drama and Jingles.

“Enter-Educate” is communicating in a manner that delivers a pro-social educational message in an entertainment format through Radio

Radio drama can be presented in three different styles: 1) as an independent drama, 2) as a series, or 3) as a serial.

The Radio and other Mass Media agents must break the silence

The media has the potential to provide accurate and factual information about FGM, which will help to address the myth and misconception surrounding the practice

Media, especially Radio, is one of greatest means of communication. The Media is key in changing the mind-set of people about negative social behaviour, and promoting an acceptable behaviour amongst its listener’s

Radio is a great platform to educate community members on the practice of FGM and its effects, which is also a step in empowering survivors.

Communication is a tool needed by survivors in advocacy and this includes story telling skills through radio and all other mass media platform. Sharing of stories have proved important in this campaign.

Awareness creation: Radio and other mass media platform can be used to create awareness on the dangers of FGM and COVID-19 prevention and risk mitigation.

The media as a tool/means of communication can lend their voice by anchoring programs that promotes and supports abandonment of FGM

The media especially Radio can do more to support this movement of FGM abandonment by encouraging survivors to come share their experiences with the world, including the after effect and how they dealt with the trauma

Radio can bring exciting, entertaining dramas into the homes and lives of millions of listeners, dramas that engage listeners’ emotions while informing them of new ideas and behaviours that can improve their lives and communities

Due the importance of the Radio in mass communication, UNICEF, under the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM (Phase II and III) has been partnering with Radio Stations to amplify the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria.

In 2017, UNICEF partnered with 10 Radio Stations in the five joint programme focus states in Nigeria to develop a 13-episode Radio Drama Serial called “Pim Pim Pim”.

The 10 partner Radio Stations in the five states were in Imo State (Heartland FM 100.5 and Orient FM 94.4): Ebonyi State (Unity FM 101.5 and Salt FM 98.1): Oyo State (Splash FM105.5 and Amuludun FM 99.1): Osun State (Livingspring FM 104.5 and Orisun FM 89.5), and Ekiti State (Ekiti Radio FM 91.5 and Progress FM 100.5):

“Pim Pim Pim” is a 15-minute drama serial that aims to enter-educate families and stimulate dialogue around FGM. It is an exciting captivating drama that captures the realities in communities where FGM is practiced. It is culturally-sensitive  

“Pim Pim Pim” provides more information about FGM & encourages discussion and self-reflection. It unfolds over time, allowing the audience to get involved with the story, actions and consequences.  

“Pim Pim Pim” ran in the 10 UNICEF-partner Stations from January to March 2017, and most stations re-aired the drama before the end of 2017.  Due to the partnership with UNICEF, “Pim Pim Pim” was aired free-of-charge by the 10 Radio Stations. 

Since 2017, the 10 UNICEF-partner Radio partners have kept FGM on the front burner in these states using their existing platforms (live phone-in discussions, jingles, drama, news commentaries, etc.), while two of the stations with TV Channels now show FGM programmes. 

The 10 UNICEF-partner Radio stations air joint programme activities interventions and are very actively involved in the commemoration the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM (February 6th) using their own resources and platforms. 

On 6th February 2020, the 10 UNICEF-partner Radio Stations used their platforms to commemorate the Day of Zero Tolerance, while nine other Radio and TV Stations in Oyo State aired the EndFGM jingles free-of-charge (See a link to the report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DkmRxm9MIX6gKIUvmj7dUqXGdmHVLSIx/view)

In 2019, UNICEF partnered with the Radio stations to produce Radio Jingles that address the consequences of FGM, medicalization, legislation, and promiscuity.  These Jingles are in English, Igbo, Yoruba and Pidgin English languages and are being aired pro bono by the Stations (at least 3 times daily per station) as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  (See a Link to the jingles: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/2/folders/19PPoyOnQFJWAp9ie-XQB0GvHGMYX_VGs.

In 2019, UNICEF is partnered with 12 Radio Stations, in Ekiti, Osun and Oyo States, including community Radios stations to intensify their broadcast of EndFGM campaign jingles and prevention of COVID-19 messages, while leveraging on their existing programs to also amplify these messages.

The partnership with the 10 Radio Stations is playing a critical role in amplifying the campaign to end FGM, in Nigeria, due to their wider coverage and effect.  They have been a major catalyst in diffusing information and creating a ripple effect that helps other communities beyond the coverage of the programme to denounce the norm of FGM even more rapidly.

It has been an interesting journey partnering with the Radio Stations to amplify the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria, and UNICEF in Nigeria would love to share the lessons learned with others who wish to start a similar campaign.

For the sake of those joining the #endcuttinggirls weekly twitter conference for the first time, I will provide a brief overview of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to refresh your memory.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. @WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into four types, and all four types are all practiced in Nigeria. # @WHO @endcuttinggirls

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora & labia majora.

Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.

FGM has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, and every year some 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2018) revealed that 20% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 25% (NDHS 2013). 

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch

At this point, I will stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions.

Thanks for being part of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “@Endcuttinggirls” on all social media platforms.

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.

TWEET CONFERENCE SRIPT: COVID-19 and FGM: What the Health sector/system can do

by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls

Thursday 28th May 2020

Based on previous experience in responding to humanitarian crises including outbreaks, the COVID-19 pandemic will compound existing gender inequalities and increase the risk of different forms of gender-based violence (GBV).

The protection and promotion of the rights of girls and women should be prioritized during this pandemic.  

Where movement is restricted and people are confined, priority should be given to ensuring access to prevention, protection and care services, including psychosocial support, and adapting community-based surveillance systems for girls and women at risk of and affected by female genital mutilation, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Female genital mutilation risk mitigation and response should be integrated in GBV and child protection COVID-19 preparedness and response plans.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030, will be disrupted, and an estimated 2 million additional cases of female genital mutilation will need to be averted.

The health impacts of violence, particularly intimate partner/domestic violence or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on women and their children, are significant.

Violence against women can result in injuries and serious physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems, including sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and unplanned pregnancies.

Health systems have an important role to play in ensuring services for women who have experienced violence remain safe and accessible during the COVID-19 outbreak.

While recognizing that COVID-19 has placed an immense burden on the health systems and health workers in caring for the sick, there are things that can help mitigate the impacts of violence on women and children during this time:

All stakeholders involved in COVID-19 response need to be aware of and raise awareness of the potential impacts that physical distancing, stay at home and other measures to address this pandemic are likely to have on women who are subjected to violence and their children.

Governments and policy makers must include essential services to address FGM and VAW in preparedness and response plans for COVID-19, resource them, and identify ways to make them accessible in the context of social distancing measures.

Health facilities should identify information about services available locally (e.g. FGM hotlines, shelters, rape crisis centers, counselling) for survivors, including opening hours, contact details and whether these can be offered remotely, and establish referral linkages.

Health providers need to be aware of the risks and health consequences of FGM/VAW. They can help women who disclose by offering first-line support and relevant medical treatment. First line support includes: listening empathetically and without judgment, inquiring about needs and concerns, validating survivors’ experiences and feelings, enhancing safety, and connecting survivors to support.

Humanitarian response organizations need to include services for women/Children subjected to violence and in their COVID-19 response plans and gather data on reported cases of FGM/VAW.

Community members should be made aware of the increased risk of violence against women & Children during this pandemic and the need to keep in touch and support women & Children subjected to violence, and to have information about where help for survivors is available.

It is important to ensure that it is safe to connect with women when the abuser is present in the home.

Women who are experiencing violence may find it helpful to reach out to supportive family and friends, seek support from a hotline, or seek out local services for survivors.

They may also find it useful to have a safety plan in case the violence escalates. This includes having a neighbor, friend or relative or shelter identified to go to in the event they need to leave the house immediately for safety.

Before we close, we would like to share a brief overview of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for the benefit of those joining our tweet conference for the first time.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. @WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into four types, and all four types are all practiced in Nigeria.

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora & labia majora.

Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.

FGM has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.

it is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, and every year some 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2018) revealed that 20% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 25% (NDHS 2013). 

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch

At this point, I will stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions. #COVID_19 #endcuttinggirls

Thanks for being part of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our  www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “@Endcuttinggirls” on all social media platforms.

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.

FACEBOOK CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: increasing rate of COVID-19; its effect on the practice of FGM

by Titilade Dacosta  

on Tuesday, 26th May 2020

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are all practiced in Nigeria.

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.

Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation). Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.

FGM has short terms and long-term effects on the health and well-being of girls and women. Short term effects of FGM include: severe pain, excessive bleeding, shock, genital tissue swelling, infections, while the long-term effects include chronic genital infections, urinary tract infections, painful urination, keloids, perinatal risks, etc.

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM practice violates women and girls’ rights to health, security and physical integrity, rights to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and rights to life (when the procedure results in death)

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=80s

FGM practice is strongly rooted in the people’s culture and so, it has not been an easy task in getting people to abandon the practice despite the harmful effects on girls and women.

It is estimated that about 200 million girls/women have undergone FGM and about 3 million girls/women per year are at risk.  Unless action to end FGM is accelerated, another 68 million girls will have been cut by 2030 (Antonio Guterres – UN Sec. Gen.)

In Nigeria, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2016-17) revealed that 18.4% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 27% (2011).  Conversely, the FGM prevalence among daughters (0-14 years) rose from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-17). 

Girls and women living with have experienced a harmful practice and should be provided quality health care, while those at risk should be protected from being subjected to this harmful procedure.

The “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM: Accelerating Change” is being implemented to end FGM in 16 countries including Nigeria.  It commenced in 2008, while Nigeria joined in 2014. Phase III began in Jan. 2018 and will end by Dec. 2021. The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM is playing a mammoth role in achieving Target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices by 2030, under Goal 5 of the SDGs.

In Nigeria, one of the strategies adopted by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating Change” is Peer Education.

Before discussing today’s topic, “Increasing rate of COVID-19; its effect on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation”, let us define the term COVID-19.

The Increasing rate of COVID-19; its effect on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation will be discussed as follow;

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

 Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. 

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.

To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

Most common symptoms of COVID-19 includes:

  • fever.
  • dry cough.
  • tiredness.

Less common symptoms of COBID-19 includes:

  • aches and pains.
  • sore throat.
  • diarrhoea.
  • conjunctivitis.
  • headache.
  • loss of taste or smell.
  • a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.

Serious symptoms of COVID-19 includes:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • chest pain or pressure.
  • loss of speech or movement.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms.  Always call before visiting your doctor or health facility also People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home. On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days. 

The increase rate of COVID-19, affecting FGM appears to be the dark byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic

As many people are being asked to stay at home, some are being trapped with their abusers and unless support is put in place, the fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic could be detrimental for women and girls around the globe for decades  

COVID-19 is affecting access to information and education at an unprecedented scale and this making some parents to embark on circumcising their female children.

COVID-19 keeps children out of school, which we know, it can lead to a number of increased vulnerabilities and setbacks

COVID-19 has made protection and promotion of the rights of girls and women to take back seat

Where movement is restricted and people are confined, priority should be given to ensuring access to prevention, protection and care services, including psychosocial support.

Adapting community-based surveillance systems for girls and women at risk of and affected by female genital mutilation, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Female genital mutilation risk mitigation and response should be integrated in GBV and child protection COVID-19 preparedness and response plans.

Female genital mutilation risk mitigation should be integrated across all humanitarian clusters including health, WASH, education, protection, and food security.

The increased presence of law enforcement serve as a deterrent for female genital mutilation. It may also mean that law enforcement is overburdened and unable to provide protection to girls and women at risk of female genital mutilation.

With schools closed and restrictions in mobility due to COVID-19, girls are staying home which increases their risk of undergoing female genital mutilation.

The closure of School may also mean that some communities will commence the FGM season before the long vacation since the girls are at home.

Supporting community-based women and youth groups in identifying girls at risk of FGM and other forms of GBV, as well as raising awareness about their increased vulnerability and marginalization as a result of the pandemic is one way to adapt community-based surveillance systems.

The way to ensure the integration of FGM in COVID-19 preparedness and response plans, participate in COVID-19 Task Forces/Committees to reduce the effect on the practice of FGM.

Include Girls and Women in Decision Making for COVID-19 Preparedness and Response to reduce the effect on the practice of FGM

Support community-based women and youth groups in leading prevention and protection activities in communities including tracking and supporting girls at risk of female genital mutilation due to COVID-19 using WhatsApp or other applications or platforms to support continued community surveillance to reduce the effect on the practice of FGM.

Capacity development for service providers and other stakeholders should be part of the COVID-19 response to reduce the effect on the practice of FGM. The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented risks and opportunities. Potential opportunities related to ending female genital mutilation include the following:

  • Reduction in Medicalization: In response to COVID-19, quarantine measures worldwide have resulted in limited mobility for populations. This can present an opportunity in addressing the medicalization of FGM, as families and communities are unable to travel to clinics or health facilities where health care providers practice FGM. If COVID-19 reduces medicalization, efforts should be made to sustain this positive trend beyond the current pandemic.
  • Captive Audience for Social and behavior change communication (SBCC) and Communication for Development (C4D) Campaigns: The COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to intensify SBCC and C4D campaigns promoting FGM abandonment as quarantine and lockdown measures means most people are at home monitoring mass and social media for the latest update on COVID19. Be creative in developing communication campaigns as way to increase the chances of messages going viral.

This is where we will end today’s segment of the conference on “Increasing rate of COVID-19; its effect on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. We will gladly standby to take your questions. Thank you for staying with us

To learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign, please visit www.endcuttinggirls.org for information.  You may also follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls

Together we will end FGM in this generation.

TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Identifying & addressing the needs of Girls/Women at risk of FGM Risks within the COVID-19 Responds

by Twitter Team @endcuttinggirls

Thursday 14th May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present an array of challenges, forcing nearly all types of basic service delivery – including, but not limited to, humanitarian response – to drastically adapt.

There is already unsettling amount of information on FGM occurring against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak1.

It is also becoming increasingly clear that many of the measures deemed necessary to control the spread of the disease (e.g. restriction of movement, reduction in community interaction, closure of businesses and services, etc.) are not only increasing violence against women and girls, but also limiting survivors’ ability to distance themselves from their abusers as well as reducing their ability to access external support.

In addition, it is clear from previous epidemics that during health crises, women typically take on additional physical, psychological and time burdens as caregivers.

As such, it is critical that all actors involved in efforts to respond to COVID-19 – across all sectors – take violence against Women and Girls into account within their programme planning and implementation.

Local women’s organizations are a good source of information on the safest and most appropriate options for interacting/communicating with women and girls when in-person gatherings are not possible.

Assess potential barriers to accessing services and accurate information, particularly for women, girls and other at-risk groups.

The AAAQ framework provides a set of guiding questions to help identify potential barriers that can be adapted to any sector and to the specifics of government-mandated measures to control the spread of the virus in a given location.

In situations where community consultations cannot take place due to quarantine/lockdown policies, the AAAQ framework can act as a starting point for humanitarian actors to think through potential barriers that women, girls and other at-risk populations are likely to face.

All humanitarian workers, no matter their contract type or duration, must be aware that sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of affected populations is serious misconduct. Each sector/agency should remind all their personnel that SEA is strictly prohibited and how to report SEA by humanitarian workers.

Given the rapidly changing environment, options for FGM service provision are likely to change their modality, be reduced and/or operate differently than under normal circumstances.

It is important to ensure staff and volunteers in all sectors are equipped to provide accurate, up-to-date information on available FGM services and to be aware of current limitations of response services (i.e. do not over-promise).

Liaise with State Ministries of Health to be aware of what is available; what the current limitations of response services are; and key messages to raise awareness on available FGM services.

Within the plan for implementing programming in any sector, it is recommended to incorporate regular check-ins with State FGM focal point(s) to remain informed of the latest developments on referral procedures/recommendations.

Work with state ministries of health to identify what these might be in your location (for example, food and/or cash distributions, markets, pharmacies, health or nutrition services) and consider if/how information on available FGM services can be safely relayed at or through those entry points.

Options may include equipping staff and volunteers working in those sectors with pocket cards containing relevant contact information, posting visual representations of FGM referral pathways and/or hotline numbers in select safe locations and so on.

Women, girls and vulnerable or marginalized populations often have less access to information and are more likely to receive inaccurate information either inadvertently or deliberately in order to uphold existing unequal power dynamics and/or create opportunities for exploitation.

This can affect women’s and girls’ ability to obtain objective and reliable information about COVID-19 infection prevention control measures as well as key information about the availability of and any changes in the delivery of essential assistance, including FGM support services.  

Plan for adaptations to communication and information sharing mechanisms for situations where large gatherings, access to communal buildings and community meetings may be restricted or suspended.  

Particular care should be taken to ensure that timely, reliable and objective information about COVID-19 and any changes in the availability or delivery of essential services reaches women and girls, so their access is not compromised and they are not at increased risk of marginalization.

Suggested adaptations can include SMS/text messages, radio messages, and/or announcements in the site.

Messages can be shared through mechanisms including but not limited to camp committees, women’s groups and informal networks, adolescent youth and women with disabilities groups, etc.  

Involve women and girls in the development of Information, Communication and Education (ICE) materials on COVID-19 to ensure they are effective, appropriate and proactively address misinformation and disease-related stigma.

Support women’s groups, camp committees and community leaders to effectively disseminate messaging, engage in awareness raising and hygiene promotion activities.

Continue to promote women’s participation in camp governance structures and decision-making processes, including on COVID-19 response measures. Guidance forthcoming.

In coordination with end FGM activists, identify contingency measures to provide support to FGM survivors in case access to services outside the displacement site is restricted.

Before we close, we would like to share a brief overview of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for the benefit of those joining our tweet conference for the first time.  

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) includes all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies FGM into four types, and all four types are all practiced in Nigeria.

Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). Subgroups of Type I FGM are: type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Subgroups of Type II FGM are: type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora & labia majora.  

Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).  

Subgroups of Type III FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.  

Reinfibulation is covered under this definition. This is a procedure to recreate an infibulation, for example after childbirth when defibulation is necessary.

Type IV: unclassified – all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. Type IV also includes the practice of “massaging” or applying petroleum jelly, herbal concoctions or hot water to the clitoris to desensitize it or pushing it back into the body, which is common in many parts of Nigeria, especially Imo State.  

FGM has no known health benefit, and is harmful to girls and women. It involves altering, removing and/or damaging otherwise healthy female genital tissue.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM, and every year some 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to its potential negative health consequences (UNICEF 2016).  

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2018) revealed that 20% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 25% (NDHS 2013).   

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch

At this point, I will stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions.  

Thanks for being part of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our  www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “@Endcuttinggirls” on all social media platforms.  

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.