THEME: ENDING FGM/C IS A POLITICAL DECISION.
Welcome to our special tweet conference in celebration of International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM/C.
We are glad to have you join us. The conference is one of the activities of UNICEF-UNFPA Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C): Accelerating Change in Nigeria to #endcuttinggirls
Every Thursday, UNICEF trained social media advocates discuss issues around FGM/C in order to educate, enlighten and collate opinions that will help to #endcuttinggirls
Today’s special tweet conference will be anchored by the Endcuttinggirls Twitter Team, namely, @aatsarumi; @TheCoachMYKE; @Charles_Clever; @rayvocate; @robinson4eva; and @CAPRITOLU .
On 6 February 2003, the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, made the official declaration on “Zero Tolerance to FGM” in Africa during a conference organized by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices. Subsequently, the UN adopted the 6th of February as the “International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C. This year’s theme is ‘’Ending Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) is a Political Decision” and our tweet conference would focus on it
As the conference progresses, we will look at the global efforts of @UNICEF_Nigeria and @UNFPANigeria in a bid to and conclude with efforts that the government can focus on.
FGM/C 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 1997) FGM/C is commonly called Female Circumcision, which hides its physical and psychological effect on women. For more information more on the general facts about Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C), kindly visit www.endcuttinggirls.org.
Various terms have emerged in an attempt to balance varying views and opinions on the practice and to appeal to all stakeholders in the elimination of the practice
Data made available by the World Health Organisation in 2016 showed that young girls between the ages 0-15yrs and women are at the risk of FGM/C which puts 3 million girls at yearly risk. It also confirmed that more than 200 million girls/women live with consequences of FGM/C.
In 1997, WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA issued a Joint Statement on FGM/C. The statement described the consequences of the practice on public health and human rights and declared support for FGM/C abandonment.
In 2007, the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C Abandonment: Accelerating Change (UNJP) to reduce the practice of FGM/C among girls aged 0 -15 by 40%, and eliminate FGM/C in at least one country by 2012 (2008-2012). The UNJP is the main UN instrument to promote the acceleration of FGM/C abandonment
The UNJP campaign, which is the largest single effort to in 17 countries of the world, namely, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Nigeria and Yemen.
As the largest global programme addressing FGM/C, the UNJP plays a critical role in achieving Target 5.3 which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices by 2030, under the Sustainable Development Goal 5
The UNJP Phase II (2014-2017) had three outcomes, namely;
Outcome 1) Programme countries enact legal and policy frameworks for eliminating FGM/C which appropriately resourced and implemented (in line with AU and UN Resolutions);
Outcome 2) Service providers provide timely, appropriate and quality services to girls and women at risk of or having experienced FGM/C in select districts in programme countries;
and outcome 3) A majority of individuals, families and communities in programme areas accept the norm of eliminating FGM/C.
From 2014-2017, the UNJP worked with government and civil society organisations to accelerate FGM/C abandonment in five States with the highest prevalence in FGM/C in Nigeria, namely, Osun (77%), Ebonyi (74%), Ekiti (72%), Imo (68%) and Oyo (66%). The national prevalence of FGM/C women among women aged 15-49 years is 25% (NDHS 2013).
The Phase II UNJP (2014-2017) in Nigeria achieved a lot in the five intervention states. It supported the establishment of State Technical Committee on FGM/C (STC), a state-level coordination structure that meets quarterly. The UNJP mapped the existing community governance structures in the intervention communities as platforms to drive community engagement, public fora and community dialogues on FGM/C abandonment,
- the UNJP trained FGM/C Community Champions (FCCs) to create awareness and implement behavioural change activities that encourage FGM/C abandonment within their communities.
- the UNJP partnered with 10 radio stations (including Orient FM 94.4 and Heartland FM 100.5) in the five intervention States to produce and air a 13-episode radio drama serial on FGM/C (Pim Pim Pim).
- the UNJP mobilised young Social Media Advocates to run the “endcuttinggirls Social Media campaigns” on six social media platforms, namely, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram and Website (endcuttinggirls.org).
- the UNJP has put in place a functional national coordination mechanism, and implemented an integrated and comprehensive approach towards galvanizing the new social norm of keeping girls intact.
The lessons learned in the first two phases of the UNJP (2008-2017) will be applied for an accelerated push in Phase III. The aim is to ensure that all girls are spared from the cut by 2030 at the latest, as called for by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5).
To achieve the global goal of in 2030 (SDG 5), it would be important to discuss how to implement the theme of the 2018 International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C, which is “Ending FGM/C is a Political Decision”.
In Nigeria, based on our experience from Phase II of the UNJP (2014-2017), we have made recommendations to key stakeholders, especially members of the State Technical Committees on FGM/C (STC), which are aligned to the three outcomes of the UNJP are as follows;
- the political decisions required to achieve outcome 1) Programme countries enact legal and policy frameworks for eliminating FGM/C which appropriately resourced and implemented (in line with AU and UN Resolutions), are as follows…;
1a. the Executives can Advocate for the extension of the National Policy and Plan of Action for the Elimination of FGM/C (2013-2017), provide and equip offices for the State Technical Committee on FGM/C and assign skilled personnel, and make specific budgetary provisions and release funds for FGM/C programmes
1b. the Legislators can Enact and/or pass Bills against FGM/C and Approve budgetary provisions for FGM/C programmes, while the Judiciary can accelerate hearings of cases of FGM/C
1c. the Nigeria Police can designate Officers at the State and Divisions to handle FGM/C Cases, as well as Investigate, arrest and prosecute reported cases of FGM/C
1d. the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) • can designate Officers at the State and Divisions to handle FGM/C Cases, and also refer reported cases of FGM/C to the Police for investigation.
- the political decisions required to achieve outcome 2) Service providers provide timely, appropriate and quality services to girls and women at risk of or having experienced FGM/C in select districts in programme countries, are as follows…;
2a. the Ministry of Health (MOH):can enhance staff capacity to implement FGM/C programmes; sanction health workers and health facilities that engage in “medicalization” of FGM/C; mainstream FGM/C into existing prevention and care services (Ante-natal Care services, etc.); and establish an information management system to track and follow-up clients that received FGM/C-related services.
2b. the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MOGASD) can enhance staff capacity to implement FGM/C programmes (especially Social Workers) and provide FGM/C prevention and protection services to girls/women
2c. the Ministry of Education (MOE) can enhance staff capacity to implement FGM/C programmes (especially Teachers and Instructors in the non-formal education sector) and provide opportunities for students to receive FGM/C prevention and care services
2d. the Ministry of Information (MOI) can enhance staff capacity to implement FGM/C programmes (especially information officers) and use all available channels to inform the public about FGM/C
2e. the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) can enhance staff capacity to implement FGM/C programmes and prosecute cases of FGM/C
- the political decisions required to achieve outcome 3) A majority of individuals, families and communities in programme areas accept the norm of eliminating FGM/C, are as follows…;
3a. the Religious Leaders can utilise all platforms and programmes within Christianity and Islam to preach against FGM/C to their members.
3b. the Traditional Rulers can conduct community dialogues on FGM/C Abandonment; provide opportunities for community members to learn about FGM/C; conduct Public declarations of FGM/C abandonment at community and LGA levels; and establish mechanisms to monitor and enforce the declaration to abandon FGM/C (e.g. Community Based Child Protection Committees)
As the world marks the 2018 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM/C today, UNICEF calls on all Policy/Decision makers at all levels (government, traditional, religious, etc.) to make the necessary political decisions required to accelerate the elimination of FGM/C in Nigeria.
UNICEF is optimistic that the implementation of the recommendations in tweets 16-18, will enable the UNJP to achieve its goal of eliminating FGM/C in this generation, as wells as achieving Target 5.3 which calls for the elimination of all harmful practices by 2030, under the Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5).
Please remember to join our weekly Twitter Conference on 8th of February to discuss “Music, Arts and Entertainment as tools for ending FGM/C”
As you ask your questions, we hope that you have taken a decision to join us to #endcuttinggirls, we also hope that the leaders will make the political decision required to end FGM/C in this generation. We cannot do it without You! Thank you!