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
Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are all
practiced in Nigeria.
FGM 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.
FGM 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.
FGM 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
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.
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) . FGM
is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who play other central roles
in communities, such as Traditional Birth Attendants.
In many settings, health care providers perform FGM due to the
erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized. The medicalization of FGM refers to
“situations in which the procedure (including re-infibulation) is practised by
any category of health-care provider, whether in a public or a private clinic,
at home or elsewhere, at any point in time in a woman’s life”. Healthcare
providers who agree to perform FGM are violating the fundamental medical
ethical principle or duty of non-maleficence (“do no harm”) and the fundamental
principle of providing the highest quality health care possible.
FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways.
It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and
interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.
FGM remains widespread in Nigeria with regional and ethnic variations
in prevalence. According
to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2016 -2017), 18.4% of women aged
15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 27% (2011). Conversely, the FGM prevalence among
daughters aged 0-14 years rose from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-2017).
The reason for practicing FGM include to 1) Enhance Fertility: 2)
Respect for Tradition: 3) Rite Of Passage; 4) Social Convention; 5)
Marriageability; 6) Ensure Virginity, Chastity and Faithfulness; 7)
Cleanliness; 8) Femininity; and 9) Religion. Whatever
the reason provided, FGM reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes.
This aspect, and the fact that FGM is an embedded sociocultural practice, has
made its complete elimination extremely challenging.
The “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Eliminating FGM: Accelerating
Change” is being implemented to end FGM in 16 countries including Nigeria. It commences 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
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
community mobilisation. We shall discuss the process and how it can pay a vital
role in the campaign to end FGM.
A community is a group of people, who live
within a geographically defined area and who share a common language, culture
or values, where families are dependent on one another in their day-to-day
transactions, thereby creating mutual advantages.
Community mobilisation is the process of
getting people together, sensitizing them towards identifying their needs and
problems and how to solve them using their local resources. Community
mobilisation in this context is a deliberate effort in the capacity
building process, where individuals, clan representatives and community-based organisations,
plan, carry out and evaluate activities on a participatory and sustained basis
Community-based participatory approaches will
help to achieve reliable and sustainable behavioural changes that will ensure
the safety of our girls and women
In most societies, where FGM is practised, it is
considered a cultural tradition, which is often used as an argument for its
Through community involvement, such harmful
cultural practices that continue to exist under the guise of “rites” can be
reviewed by the community members and abandoned once they determine that it is
harmful. The process of community
mobilisation allows the community member to pool their knowledge and
experience, and develop ways and means of ensuring an end to FGM using their
A major step to end FGM is to build on each
community’s knowledge and beliefs through a continuous dialogue and advocacy
We must continue working with communities to establish credibility and
trust, in order to and raise awareness about Its
dangers to girls and women, and enforce penalties for violations where anti-FGM
laws exist. The key steps are listed below;
It is important to begin with a transparent community selection process to
build a positive relationship with the community
Through general assessments; interviews
and focus group discussions, community priorities as well as community leaders
and gatekeepers can be identified
It is important to hold introductory meetings with community leaders;
women’s leaders, clan heads, community chiefs, youth leaders, and enlist their
support to mobilize community participation in the bid to EndFGM
Town hall meetings should be held to elect representatives at direct
levels within the community, to support/coordinate program activities
Allowing communities to be part of the decision making process to
solidifies support and galvanizes local participation when advocating for a
change to what is considered a “cultural norm”
of any community have the chance to participate in the design, implementation
and monitoring of community-level initiatives, the program more accurately
reflects their real needs and interests
Community structures of leadership and authority
must not be overlooked as community leaders, religious leaders, circumcisers,
and even some medical personnel can contribute to upholding the practice of
FGM, undermining the fight to
Community mobilisation in the campaign to end FGM
will help local ownership and the sustainability of the program, ensuring a
long-term commitment to a community change movement
When getting involved at the community level, especially in rural
regions, it goes without saying that one must portray the required or
acceptable behaviour. It
is important to be polite but persuasive, patient, a good listener, tolerant
and self-restrained, honest, open, non-judgmental and respectful.
While mobilizing a community
to raises community awareness about FGM and
persuade them to participate in pre-planned activities, it is a comprehensive
strategy that includes exploring the issues of violence against women and the
Communities can key into several resources to tackle FGM on
case-to-case basis , as
Sensitizations can be carried out for
communities to ensure the correct information on laws, better practices and
existing referral networks are carried along
Community leaders can work with local law
enforcement to champion the cause and ensure new cases are reported in a timely
manner so preventive measures can be taken as quickly as needed
More of such providers of FGM-related
services can be identified and intensely sensitized on the dangers of carrying
More households can be reached during
routine community sensitizations in order to keep community members informed
about the realities of FGM
Primary Health Centres (PHC) can key into
community initiatives to sensitize women and girls on safe pregnancies,
deliveries and after-care practices and strengthening referral networks
Since 2014, the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme in
Nigeria has been using the above strategy to mobilise the intervention communities
in the five focus states in Nigeria, namely, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun, and Oyo.
The community mobilisation strategy has
contributed to the success of the programme in Nigeria, which can be reflected
in the growing number of communities that have publicly declared the
abandonment of FGM in the five focus states.
In summary, Community
mobilisation in general involves certain basic steps that can be applied to any
efforts to end. These steps should be taken into account when preparing any
type of community mobilisation to realize significant impact. At each level of the
community mobilisation process, full participation of all relevant stakeholders
is essential for successful community mobilisation. The basic steps of
community mobilisation involve the following features described in tweets 34c:
Define the problem; Establish a community mobilisation group; Design strategies;
set objectives and select target groups; Develop an action plan with a timeline;
Build capacity; Identify partners; Implement the plan of activities; and Monitor
I will end the presentation at this point, please
send in your questions and comments lets discuss further on how we can in our communities using the community