Good evening and welcome to today’s tweet conference. I am Okoye Robinson and I would be joined by Aderonke Olutayo and Cynthia Omo.
Today we shall be looking at “Empowering Pregnant Women and Young Mothers to Protect their Babies from FGM.
FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation and it 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.
There are four types of FGM and they are:
Type 1 (Clitoridectomy) involves the removal of the prepuce with or without excision of part of the clitoris.
Type 2 (Excision) is the removal of the clitoris with partial or total removal of the labia minora
Type 3 (Infibulation) is the removal of part of the external genitalia, stitching and narrowing of the vaginal orifice for urination and menstrual flow
Type 4 (unclassified) refers to all other harmful procedures such to the female genitalia such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, etc for non-medical reasons
FGM has short terms and long term effects on the health and well-being of women. For more information on FGM please visit our website: www.endcuttinggirls.org
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Pregnant women are a major key to ending this harmful practice called FGM.
FGM is a Human right violation and if all mothers and would-be mothers understand that FGM is against human right and inflicts pains and health risks on it survivors, they will do all they can to save their girl-children.
If a would-be mother who may have been cut is well informed on the negative effects of FGM and that the practice has no know positive effect, she will protect her girl from undergoing through what she knows may harm her.
A mother can solely decide whether or not to cut her girl-child.
Research has found that in most cases of FGM, the fathers are left out of the plan to cut the girl-child. Some are not even aware that such practices exist.
So the campaign to end FGM cannot be 100% successful without pregnant women and young mothers being enlightened on FGM and then they join in the campaign against it.
Studies have also shown that most young women do not even why such practice exists. They perform cutting on their girl-child with the narrative…
Since my mother did it to me, I will do the same to my own children. This is mostly how traditional practices grow to become a norm and difficult to tame. It ends up leading to the fear that if it’s not done, the defaulter will be inflicted negatively.
So, we must empower pregnant women and young mothers with the right and effective tools to stand against this practice that has become social norm.
Empowerment in this sense can be termed “Educating pregnant women and young mothers.”
Education is a key to ending a social norm, because one can’t give what one doesn’t have.
This education must include empirical facts on why pregnant mothers should not even consider FGM either at the point of delivery or afterwards. Proper information on the ills of FMG will expose the truth that it has no positive effect as against any myth that may have stood as grounds for which the act is carried out.
Research based results embedded with verifiable facts, will have a young mother no other option than to protect her girl-child. We see an example in the story of a woman named Mary, a community health Volunteer and a lead member of the ‘Shininess’ mother-to-mother group.
In her interview with Christian Aid Kenya, her daughter asked her, ‘Mama, why are you telling me not to be circumcised, when you are circumcised?’
Mary was, due to adequate knowledge on the practice, able to answer her daughter effectively. If Mary was not properly enlightened, she would not have been able to give an effective answer to the question.
These could have left her daughter with questions and second guesses that may overthrow her mother’s stand if she is faced with people and situations that suggest FGM as the right thing to do.
If 200 million pregnant women are empowered effectively on the need to abandon FGM, it will translate to saving over 200 million girl-child who would have been at risk of being cut.
So, a question begs for answer. Where and how do we educate (empower) pregnant women and young mothers on how to protect their babies.
Ante-natal care program is the best avenue to empower pregnant women on the importance and need to protect their girl-child from FGM.
Antenatal care is the routine health control of presumed healthy pregnant women without symptoms (screening), in order to diagnose diseases or complicating obstetric conditions without symptoms and to provide information about lifestyle, pregnancy and delivery.
Pregnant women are expected to regularly attend ante-natal care prior to delivery.
At each antenatal visit, participants are educated on pregnancy and birth, and about parenting a new baby. This explains why the Ante-natal care program is the best avenue to empower pregnant women on preventing their babies from undergoing FGM.
When #endfgm is successfully mainstreamed into Ante-natal care teachings, pregnant women will be properly educated on why they should prevent their girl-child from FGM.
This cannot be achieved without first training their Ante-natal care providers which include; Mid-wives, Nurses, Doctors and even Traditional birth attendants.
When these care providers are properly educated and empowered on the #endfgm campaign, they will transfer it to pregnant women who visit for ante-natal care which will result in the women abandoning FGM.
We must not forget that a postnatal follow-up be also carried out to ensure that the girl-child is not cut. We cannot also forget the tremendous influence of the religious bodies; church, mosque and traditional religious leaders.
Most of the religious bodies have women groups which we can utilize to train and educate young mothers and pregnant women. Community women groups cannot be left out too because women leaders in the community are known to wield so much influence.
They can in the course of educating young mothers and pregnant women on how to care for their babies, teach women to prevent their girl-child from FGM. All these and so much more could come in handy in seeing an end to FGM in our generation.
Thank you for reading through. We would be taking your questions now. Comments and Suggestions are also welcomed.