Community dialogues provide a
platform to engage community members including parents, adolescents, and
community leaders in discussions issues affecting the lives of Community
members and how to address them in their community.
Through community dialogues,
community members will explore ways to address their challenges such as improving
their healthcare seeking behaviours and using modern health care services and
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
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into
four types, and they are all practiced 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
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.
It is 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). .
Nigeria, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2016-17) revealed that 18.4% of
women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM, a decrease from 27% (2011). Conversely, the FGM prevalence among
daughters (0-14 years) rose from 19.2% (2011) to 25.3% (2016-17).
information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int
or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0-dYD9cYKo&t=80s @WHO
In order to eliminate the practice of
FGM, the Phase I of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C Abandonment:
Accelerating Change (UNJP) was conceived and implemented, in 15 countries, from
2008 to 2012. From January 2014 to December
2017, the Phase II of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C Abandonment:
Accelerating Change (UNJP) was implemented, in 17 countries, including Nigeria.
The Phase III of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint
Programme on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change commenced
in January 2018. It is being implemented in 16 countries including Nigeria, and
will end by December 2021.
The goal of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme
is to contribute to the acceleration of the total abandonment of FGM within a
generation in line with United Nation General Assembly Resolution A/RES/67/146 to “intensify global efforts to eliminate FGM.
As the largest
global programme addressing FGM, the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM 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 UN Joint Programme adopts a holistic and
multi-sectoral approach that supports ending FGM at household, community,
national and global levels with focus on policy/legal reforms, girls/women
empowerment, service provision and improved policy/programming: to achieve Output 2 of the UNJP,
“Improved community and interpersonal
engagement to address and amplify social and gender norms transformation”, practicing
communities need to develop agendas for ending FGM through the process of “community
dialogue is a process of joint problem identification and analysis leading to
modification and redirection of community and stakeholders’ actions towards a
preferred future for all.
dialogue is based on the following two main principles, which are Problem based adult learning and
Negotiation (dialogue is a process of bargaining, give and take)
The main objective of
community dialogue is to generate response from communities and individuals
that result into commitment to addressing the identified problems/gaps in a
participatory manner. It also aims to
achieving the objectives below:
- Generating deeper understanding of the nature of the epidemic among
individuals and communities in order to influence change.
- Surfacing common issues and the resources to address them, (helps
identify barriers to positive change and uncover innovative ideas).
- Building a pool of resource persons with transformative leadership
abilities and facilitation skills to scale up the community response to FGM/C
and other related development issues.
- Providing a forum for the unheard to be heard.
- Promoting social contacts among various groups in the community.
- Promoting self-esteem, self-confidence, tolerance, trust,
accountability, introspection and self-management.
- Promoting ownership and accountability.
Organising a community
dialogue has several benefits, which are listed below;
- community dialogue helps to identify and enlist key
individuals for sustainable partnerships.
- community dialogue helps solicit community participation,
support and commitment in problem solving for sustainable behaviour change.
- community dialogue promotes sharing of information and
ideas between individuals of different cadres and backgrounds.
- community dialogue facilitates joint community assessment
to identify community problems and effective solutions.
- community dialogue promotes deeper understanding of
communities, their situation, current practices, interests, existing
opportunities and challenges for sustainable behaviour change.
- community dialogue promotes skills building of the
facilitator in the development and maintenance of effective dialogue with the
community in order to facilitate joint decision making and problem solving for
sustainable behaviour change.
- community dialogue helps to generate local media
- community dialogue helps leaders of all sectors to
recognize their roles in building sustainable healthy communities.
- community dialogue promotes accountability and ownership
of agreed interventions
The culture of
silence around the issue of FGM is one of the many reasons that keep the
practice alive and underground.
FGM is wrapped
around religious and cultural beliefs with 6 levels of problem in short and
long term categories which is not limited to health and psychological disorder.
It must be noted that the practice has no basis in both major religions in
Nigeria and predates both the pre-Islamic and Christian era.
The problem of
FGM has been normalized and labelled with sacredness all because the culture of
silence pervades the air
The effects of
FGM include severe bleeding, injury to genital tissues, shock, urinary
retention, keloids, death, etc., the effects ranges from the types practiced.
To the issue of
FGM as a form of gender based violence has long been established, and in some
societies the practice has been abolished.
It is much
difficult to fight the practice in communities where it’s culturally and
socially acceptable mostly because of the refusal to approach the issue and the
first step to fixing a problem is talking about it.
The culture of silence
discourages communities and survivors from opening up about FGM. Without the
testimonies of FGM survivors on their diverse side effects and health damages
they face. In a culture of silence, the communities would remain unaware of the
negative effects of FGM and may not realise that they have the potential to end
where there’s the conspiracy of silence FGM survivors treat and handle the
long-term effects secretly and personally without support.
survivors may not access the services (health, legal and social) that are
available and end up suffering in silence, because everyone if afraid to break the
silence around the practice Community dialogue goes a long way in creating a
support system for girls and women living with the effects of FGM
It exposes the
effects and damages of the practice not only individually, but generally,
giving room for public sensitizations hereby encouraging reorientation on the
issue of FGM/C
In order to
effectively facilitate community discussions, the facilitator must have good
must also help to set and follow ground rules for participation in the
rules during community dialogue helps to create a safe environment for openness
and sharing. At the end of the dialogue, the facilitator should ask
participants to develop an action plan on how they will initiate activities to
end FGM in their communities based on the new information they have gotten from
listed in the action plan are community-level initiatives to end Female Genital
Mutilation, which can be implemented by the community members with or without
external support. The activities in the action plan can be built into some of
the communities existing events such as new yam festivals, annual women’s
meeting, age grade meetings, youth gatherings, religious meetings, etc.
With the development
of the community action plan, the next step is to ensure that every community
member is aware of the plan using the social groups and other means of
The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme has implemented
a lot of community dialogues to end FGM in the focus communities where it is
operating in Nigeria through their state partners. The community
dialogue sessions organized by the UN Joint Programme helped communities to
develop plans that led to public declarations of FGM in some of the focus
communities in the five states (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo)
In conclusion, community dialogue
creates a platform for developing agenda to end Female Genital Mutilation in
At this point, I
will end the presentation to give room for questions and contributions from
participants. Thank you all for reading our tweets
To learn more
about the @endcuttinggirls Campaign, please visit endcuttinggirls.org for information. You may also follow our social media handles
on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls
Together we will end FGM in this generation.