TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Sustaining and Amplifying the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria through EndFGM Community Champions” on Thursday, 10th January 2019”

Female genital mutilation (FGM) otherwise known as female genital cutting or female circumcision is defined as “all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

In other words, it is any procedure that causes injury to the female genitals without medical indication.

The World Health Organization (@WHO), classifies FGM into four broad types, based on the anatomical extent of the procedure:

Type I (Clitoridectomy): This refers to the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (the fold of skin covering the clitoris). This is also referred to as ‘Sunna’.

Type II (Excision): Removal (in part or whole) of the clitoris and labia minora. The labia majora may or may not be removed. 

Type III (Infibulation): Here, the vaginal orifice is narrowed, and a covering seal created by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora. The clitoris may also be removed. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Pharaonic’.

Type IV (Unclassified): Any other harmful procedure performed on the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing and incision of the clitoris and/or labia, stretching and/or cutting of the vagina (‘gishiri’), scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal opening (‘angurya’) and cauterization.

It also includes the introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten or narrow the vagina. 

Despite FGM being a deeply embedded social norm with complex and various sociocultural justifications, it is and would always be a harmful and dangerous practice which can result in severe physical and mental health complications.

Effects of FGM, all negative, cannot be fully quantified as it varies from woman to woman, girl to girl. Some short term, and others long term.  

To sustain the campaign towards FGM abandonment, every community affected must be fully involved. This brings us to the place where FGM Community champions (FCC) play a major role.  

An FCC is any person who has been trained and equipped with information and skills to reach out to community members for the purpose of positively influencing decisions, actions, practices or behaviors towards FGM and it’s abandonment. 

After their training, FCC’s carry out the following community level activities:  

  • The FCCs Conducts of Interpersonal communication sessions with individuals, families and small groups
  • The FCCs conducts awareness creation in Schools, Churches, Market places, and Village meetings etc

They also Conduct educational/dialogue sessions with community groups during their regular meetings (women groups, religious groups, Male Groups, Youth groups etc.).

Additionally, the FCCs Support girls/women and influential community members to speak out against FGM

Where there are cases of FGM, the FCCs reports such cases to the appropriative Ministries, Departments or Agencies with the help of their community leaders.  If there should be any form of complication as a result of FGM, the FCCs ensures that such issues are addressed by service providers (health facilities, etc.)

The FCCs can work as volunteers for statutory bodies or agencies involved in the end FGM campaign (community, LGA, State) to deliver FGM-related services

The FCCs has the full power of their traditional rulers to monitor delivery homes to ensure female children are not subjected to FGM. Wherever a female baby is delivered within the community, the FCCs will be available to educate the family members on the dangers of FGM which is known as “household education sessions”

Once the FCCs are seen as being knowledgeable on issues concerning FGM, neighboring Communities invites them to speak to their people during community festivals. Activity reports of the FCCs are reviewed and signed by their traditional ruler as part of an endorsement of their monthly activities before it is being transmitted to the appropriate authorities at state level.

The FCCs also team up to form a forum in their community to campaign against any health issue that is not in the best interest of their Girls and Women in their Community and also expands to other neighboring community.  

The reports of the FCCs will help the traditional rulers keep track of the number of female babies delivered in their communities and the number subjected to FGM each month.

Before the selection of FCCs in a community, the following factors are to be considered:

i). Determine the number of FCCs required to cover a community (using data from assessment process).

ii). Ask community stakeholders (e.g., traditional, religious leaders, etc.) and service providers (health facilities, etc.) for recommendations for FCC candidates during regular advocacy visits.

iii). Manage expectations about the selection process, and screen candidates for conflicts of interest (e.g., nepotism).

 Preliminary interview of shortlististed FCC candidates is advised to assess their personalities and confidence to engage in discussions with people. This is be carried out before training commences.  In conclusion, In Sustaining and Amplifying the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria, we need end FGM Community Champions.

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