TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Nigerian Celebrities: Enhancing their role as EndFGM Advocates – 31.10.2019

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.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, all of which are practiced in Nigeria.

FGM Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy).

FGM Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

 FGM Type III: This type is called infibulation and involves 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).

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).

FGM is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who play other central roles in communities, such as Traditional Birth Attendants.  

FGM has no known health benefit, 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 a woman’s body.

The practice of FGM continue to prevail for reasons including; Respect for Tradition, Rite Of Passage, Social Convention, Marriageability, Virginity, Fertility, Chastity and Faithfulness, Cleanliness, Femininity, and Religion.

For more information about FGM you can visit http://new.endcuttinggirls.org/ or https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a growing concern in the world, it strongly violates the human rights of individuals hence the campaign to eliminate the practice must be hastened.

In Nigeria, some celebrities have seen the degree of danger the practice of FGM poses to girls and women and therefore are joining the campaign to end it.

Celebrity is the fame and public attention accorded by the mass media to individuals or groups.

Celebrity status is often associated with wealth (commonly referred to as fame and fortune), while fame often provides opportunities to earn revenue.

Successful careers in sports and entertainment are commonly associated with celebrity status, while political leaders often become celebrities.

People may also become celebrities due to media attention on their lifestyle, wealth, or controversial actions, or for their connection to a famous person.

Globally, there are many celebrities advocating for an end to Female Genital Mutilation using their different platform and position in the society  

In Nigeria today, Funke Akindele Bello is using her popular TV programme known as Jennifer’s Diary to push out stories on FGM, Gender based violence and other harmful practices. .

International superstar and passionate, life-long women’s rights campaigner, Annie Lennox is renowned for her charity work, campaigning and advocacy on women’s rights. In April 2010 Annie signed a letter to UK government officials urging them to make a pledge an end global violence against women and make it a foreign policy priority. .

In 2008, she presented a series of investigative reports of widespread violence against women in Africa, she commented: “Violence against women threatens the lives of more young women than cancer, malaria or war. It affects one in three women worldwide. It leaves women mentally scarred for life, and it is usually inflicted by a family member.” .

In addition, Annie has also campaigned tirelessly for HIV/AIDS awareness and the links between sexual violence against women and the prevalence of the disease in Africa. .

One of the 21st century’s most well-known philanthropists, Oprah Winfrey has used her fame and fortune to promote numerous causes, not least of which an end to violence against women. On her television programme “The Oprah Winfrey” show, Oprah has dedicated countless shows to helping victims of rape and incest. A victim of child abuse herself, Oprah is a powerful advocate for women’s empowerment. .

In 1985 Oprah starred in the Stephen Speilberg film, “The Colour Purple”. A film based on a book by Alice Walker, which follows the story of a young girl who is raped and beaten by first of all her step father, and then her husband. .

According to a blog post on UNFPA Ghana website, UNFPA partnered H.E Mrs Samira Bawumia the wife of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana in establishing the Coalition of People against Sexual & Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices (CoPASH). .

H.E Samira Bawumia who is the convener of CoPASH, stepped up advocacy efforts by extending the drive to the doorstep of celebrities―since they wield significant influence over a section of society, particularly their fans. .

At an event hosted by Mrs Bawumia and with support from UNFPA Ghana on 29, November 2018, various celebrities across the arts, sports and entertainment divide present, pledged to add their voices to major campaigns targeted at forming a strong public opinion against SGBV/HPs in Ghana. .

During the ceremony, H.E Samira Bawumia addressed the celebrities saying, “This is a time for us to amplify the voices of survivors of Gender-Based Violence and galvanize support to end violence against women.” She also used the opportunity to admonish celebrities to be role models to inspire behaviour change in society in order to end this menace. .

Other celebrities, including media personalities at the event recounted their own experiences with SGBV while calling on their colleagues to join forces to end SGBV/HPs in Ghana. .

The celebrities eventually made various pledges and commitments to using their craft, airtime and resources to contribute to efforts to mitigate SGBV/HPs in the country. .

This strategy by the wife of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana in establishing the Coalition of People against Sexual & Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices (CoPASH) can also be replicated in Nigeria. .

Note: “Unless action to end FGM is accelerated, another 68 million girls will have been cut by 2030” (Antonio Guterres – UN Sec. Gen.)

The Coalition of People against Sexual & Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices (CoPASH) is replicated in Nigeria, can instrumental in advocating for an end to FGM in Nigeria.   

The Coalition of People against Sexual & Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices (CoPASH) can involve celebrities from grassroots communities and village comedians.

Community celebrities and village comedian are known to influence decisions within their immediate environment, if given the opportunity to key into the (CoPASH), they can help drive the advocacy home to key community stakeholders to take policy actions on FGM in their communities. .

Also Celebrities can also be invited during FGM Public declaration of abandonment. .

Together we will end FGM in this generation.  

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