TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Sustaining the delivery of FGM – related social services in Nigeria – 18.04.2019


Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been portrayed is a form of human rights abuse. Young women and girls who undergo FGM are subjected to the risk of developing infections as well as gynecological and psychological complications.

Where severe bleeding occurs, the risk of death is imminent. Although FGM has been decried as an unnecessary and harmful ritual, it continues to be practiced in many parts of Africa, some parts of Asia, and the Middle East.

Beliefs about the benefits of FGM are deeply entrenched in tradition and culture, making it a difficult practice to eradicate. This entry aims to portray the cultural embeddedness of FGM as the main factor in preventing its eradication.

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 Organization (WHO), classifies FGM into four broad types, and subgroups, based on the anatomical extent of the procedure, and they are all practices 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 functions as a self-enforcing social convention or social norm. In societies where it is practiced, it is a socially upheld behavioural rule.   

Families and individuals continue to perform FGM because they believe that their community expects them to do so.

Families further expect that if they do not respect the social rule, they will suffer social consequences such as derision, marginalization and loss of status.    

While FGM is de facto violent, although it is not intended as an act of violence. It is considered to be a necessary step to enable girls to become women and to be accepted, together with the rest of the family, by the social group of which they are part.   

Moreover, the removal of or damage to healthy genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and may cause severe immediate and long-term negative health consequences.   

The risks girls and women might likely encounter through FGM could be immediate and short term or long term and permanent.

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

For effective FGM- related social services delivery in Nigeria, we need to enlighten all arms of government about the effect of FGM on every girl child.

The Nigerian constitution assigns service delivery responsibilities to the three tiers of government with states and local government playing the most significant role.

Sadly, Nigeria governments have not been totally up and doing in terms of efficient and effective FGM social service delivery to the grassroots.

This is evident in the poor funding of FGM related issues by the government.

FGM related social services delivery include not only the enforcement of law but also constant education on the dangers associated with FGM and so on.

The term sustainability has gained significant popularity in policy-oriented research, Social services and social sector over the last few decades.

Looking at the perspective of Social services, sustainability of a project simply implies the continuation of project activities and sustenance of project outcomes after the initial/primary grant expires.

Most donors are concerned about sustainability aspect of a project and often fund projects which have a well-defined sustainability plan in place. It is a challenge for NGOs to ensure a steady flow of funds for executing their projects and programs.

Integrating sustainability principles in the ongoing campaign of #endcuttinggilrs can be an effective way to ensure long term impact.

We need to understand that sustainability requires long term planning to facilitate diverse donor engagement and for improving institutional capacity of the target population. Sustainability planning is an important step for nonprofits as it prepares an organization to deliver positive outcome in the absence of primary funding.

However, as a result of numerous factors enumerated above, governments have been inhibited to effective and efficient social service delivery to grassroots. Consequently, I would highlight some measures that would improve social service delivery. These measures include;  

 Nigeria must ensure financial sustainability. This refers to budgetary allocation for FGM related services in the Country for maintaining and continuing the campaign.

We must also ensure proper working of organization and institutions that were developed as part of the project.

Programmatic Sustainability must also be looked into. It means to continue the organizations projects and programme in the absence of donor support.

I will also like to look at the different steps required in sustaining FGM-related social service issues in Nigeria

A thoroughly thought Long term vision of how and what to do in the long run should be in place. With the use of data and facts, explanation should be presented to the donor about the long term goal and the processes, resources required ensuring success.

It is always advisable to integrate sustainability aspects in the project right from the beginning. This would help to develop partnerships and relations with relevant stakeholders at an early stage of project development. This would also ensure that once the primary funding terminates you have a strong support to continue your project.

Develop a strong communication strategy so that the project results can be shared with a large audience. Well documented project results can help in getting support from a range of stakeholders and donors.

Another major step to ensure sustainability is the involvement and participation of key stakeholders in program development. As part of the project activities you can initiate multi-stakeholder dialogue workshops to involve relevant people in the  project.

Create an inventory of all physical resources that can be kept after the project ends. Some devices and equipment’s purchased during a project can be used in future e.g. Camera.

Constitutional Reforms to ensure the passage of the Anti- FGM Bill in all states across the country.

Involving the community is the key to have sustained FGM- related Social Services by making sure that the project involves the community at various stages, this will give them ownership of the project and there are high chances that they may continue with some project aspects even after the project duration. As the entire process will be participatory the skills and knowledge gained by the present group of people, will be transferable and also replicable.

Institutionalize local groups would also play a very important role to sustain FGM- related Social Services by strengthening local institutions  and involving them in planning and implementation phase of your project.

Community advocacy is also important, this can be done by sensitizing the community about the effects of FGM and then initiating a policy advocacy can also ensure sustainability in the long run.

Involvement of local agencies and government will ensure improved access to the government initiatives in this direction. As these agencies are permanent, they will help in sustaining the project activities beyond the project duration.

One of the strategies that can also be used to sustain FGM- related Social Services is through engaging volunteers to perform some activities. As volunteers do not take any salary, this human resource can be used to continue the mission without spending money.

Working with existing Structures to mainstream FGM related services instead of reinventing the wheel.

Curtailing Corrupt Practice within Government by stemming corruption and embezzlement, all financial transaction related to social services must be audited and publicized. There should be monitoring and evaluation unit aim at measuring efficiency and effectiveness of the allocated funds.  

To ensure accountability and transparency, the civil society organizations should also monitor the usage of the allocated funds and report any found wanting to anti-corruption agent. The anti-corrupt agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Adequate Financial Allocation of Funds and the good accessibility of the funds will help NGOS working on FGM reach more communities.  

There should be Capacity Building of institutions and Human Resources, this should involve training and orientation in policy development, monitoring and evaluation, public participation, social mobilization and government collaboration with the private sector.

Lastly, the other dimension is human resources upgrading – including training and education of NGOs and other organization working on the eradication of FGM related issues to enhance their knowledge, skills and competencies.

At this juncture, I will like to stop and I will welcome questions and contributions.  

Thank you for joining me, don’t forget to us again next week Thursday.

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