Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, 2020.
N/B: UN official hash-tags and
handles for 2020 celebration: #EndFGM #YouthEndFGM and @unicefprotects @GPtoEndFGM
Today, February 6, is a day set aside annually since 2012 by the UN General Assembly as the “International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM” aimed at amplifying efforts towards the elimination of this harmful practice by the year 2030.
With the significant population growth, coupled with the huge potentials
of young people, then investing in them becomes very important and
indispensable, if we must #Endcuttinggirls within the next 10 years,
For this reason, this year’s International Day is focused on mobilizing
youth with the global theme: “Unleashing Youth Power: One decade of
accelerating actions for Zero Female Genital Mutilation by 2030.”
Although FGM has been practiced for more than generations, elimination
of the practice is high on the international agenda, enshrined as target 5.3 of
the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In the spirit of this year’s celebration, our topic today is “Unleashing Youth Power: amplifying
the #EndFGM campaign in Nigeria
through young Social Media Advocates (SMAs)”.
you are joining us for the first time however, FGM stands for ‘’Female Genital
FGM refers to any procedure that involves “partial
or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any other injury to the
female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO, 1997).
There are different forms of FGM, some of which
involve more radical excisions in the genital area than others.
FGM has 4
types, Clitoridectomy; Excision; Infibulation; and Unclassified (e.g.
“pressing” the clitoris with hot water)
For more information about basic
facts about FGM, visit www.endcuttinggirls.org. You
can also follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media
platforms for constant updates about the EndFGM campaign.
The origin and significance of FGM practice is
shrouded in secrecy, uncertainty and fraught with controversy either as an
initiation ceremony of young girls into womanhood or to ensure virginity and
curb promiscuity, albeit erroneously.
FGM demonstrates deep-rooted gender inequalities
and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is also a
serious violation of the rights of girls’ health, security, integrity, dignity,
and freedom. FGM is not required by any religion
and there is no scientific evidence that women who have been mutilated are more
faithful or better wives than those who have not undergone the procedure.
It is therefore very clear that
there is no known benefit derived from FGM, and possible medical complications includes but not
limited to: severe bleeding, cysts, infections, difficulty urinating, issues
with childbirth and even death.
For more information, you can visit who.int or watch
Since 2008, UNICEF and UNFPA, have been jointly leading the largest
global program to accelerate the elimination of FGM. The program currently
focuses on 17 countries in Africa and the Middle East and also supports
regional and global initiatives.
Over the years, this partnership has seen significant achievements. For
instance, 4,274,271 million girls and women supported by the Joint Programme have benefited from
FGM-related protection and care services from 2008 to 2018. At the end of 2017,
thirteen (13) countries, where the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme is operating have
laws banning FGM, with similar laws pending in three (3) countries.
As we celebrate this year’s
edition of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, it is worrisome to
note that in this year 2020 alone, some 4.1 million women and girls around the
world are still at risk of undergoing FGM.
Whereas Nigeria has a National FGM prevalence of 20% among women age
15-49years (NDHS 2018), the absolute number of women that have undergone FGM is
very high due to its large population. Despite
an overall decline in the prevalence of the practice over the last three
decades in Nigeria, FGM has persisted and much more therefore needs to
enough “Unleashing Youth Power” is at the center of the
celebration for this year. Can amplifying the #EndFGM campaign in Nigeria through young Social Media Advocates
(SMAs) take us to the next dimension of success?
In November 2015,
UNICEF Nigeria launched a social media campaign with the caption
“Endcuttinggirls” in order to expand access to information about FGM, and
provide visibility for on-going community-level intervention under the
UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme, the campaign also aims to constantly educate and
interact with young people and other stakeholders on the EndFGM campaign.
Consequently, UNICEF supported the formation of a
Network of Young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) to manage the Social Media
Campaign on behalf of the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Program on FGM Elimination. This Campaign
began with the training of 35 young people (F-16 & M-19) from six States
(Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Imo, Ebonyi, and Abuja), as Social Media Advocates (SMAs)
for FGM abandonment.
young Social Media Advocates (SMAs) initiative, UNICEF Nigeria therefore gave
young people the opportunity and platform to unleash their Youth Power towards
scaling up efforts to end FGM in Nigeria. These young people have been the
driving force behind the #Endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign in Nigeria #EndFGM #YouthEndFGM @unicefprotects @GPtoEndFGM
and now the young SMAs have sustained the #Endcuttinggirls social media
campaign which currently appears to be the biggest online campaign going on
against FGM in Nigeria.
are social media handles with the name “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria” on various
social media platforms ranging from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
And there is also a website www.endcuttinggirls.org.
With our social media presence, Endcuttinggirls
handles have become an #EndFGM mouthpiece
and an online information reservoir for the Nigerian internet community.
conferences hold every Thursday from 5-7pm (Nigerian Time) with the discussion
hash-tag #Endcuttinggirls and our official twitter handle remains
@endcuttinggirls #EndFGM #YouthEndFGM @unicefprotects @GPtoEndFGM
Facebook conferences hold on the last Tuesday of each month from 5-7pm
(Nigerian Time), from our official Facebook “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria”. And on
our Instagram handle “Endcuttinggirls”, is used for sharing informative info
graphics and pictures from the campaign.
organize quarterly WhatsApp conferences targeting participants from high FGM prevalence
States (Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo) in Nigeria, based on the 2013 Nigeria
Demographic Health Survey.
Through our Twitter,
Facebook and WhatsApp conferences, our followers and participants are constantly
sensitized on the dangers
of FGM and diverse approaches towards eliminating the harmful practice through
these social media platforms, the public has also from time to time reached out
to us with their FGM-related questions and received clarifications and
visit our YouTube channel “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria”, you can watch the 40 #EndFGM videos that we
have produced over the years. They are of high quality, educative, entertaining
and insightful. Three new videos of the SMAs will be released today!
These 40 YouTube videos have served and are still
serving as #EndFGM sources of information and discussion starters for many
Our website www.endcuttinggirls.org has
continued to serve as a central reservoir for FGM related-information and
materials for the general public including researchers and advocates.
On several occasions people have alerted us through
our social media handles whenever someone in their neighborhood is about to be
mutilated, and we have always responded with the relevant agencies to avert
such cases of FGM.
Besides the online campaign, the UNICEF-trained young
Social Media Advocates (SMAs) are also physically working in the 5 states (Ebonyi,
Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo) where the United Nations Joint Program on FGM Elimination is taking
place in Nigeria.
The young SMAs at different state levels have also
partnered with government agencies and civil societies organizations, supported
by UNICEF under the Joint Programme, to document their community interventions
such as awareness creation, trainings, public declaration and other FGM-related
The young SMAs provide visibility to these events, encourage
community members to join the social media campaign, and broadcast these events,
real-time, through the #Endcuttinggirls social media handles in order to
amplify the events and ensure that people beyond the communities of
intervention are aware of the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria.
Together with other stakeholders, the efforts of
the SMAs have translated to communities in the 5 states publicly declaring the
abandonment of FGM. More are still being
expected to declare in year 2020.
These successes recorded so far through the
#Endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign can further be amplified when more, or
possibly every, Nigerian young person on social media becomes joins the
campaign. This is possible!
They can join us by searching for the handle
“Endcuttinggirls Nigeria” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and then
click follow, like our page or subscribe as required on specific social media
Beyond the Endcuttinggirls social media campaign,
how else can young people unleash their youth power towards accelerating EndFGM
So the first question is why do we need to engage
youth to end FGM? The reasons are below;
Youth need to know about issues that affect them, their peers and their
communities, including harmful practices such as FGM.
Youth can be directly or indirectly affected by FGM and will need
information and support.
Youth bring energy, passion and a new outlook to efforts to end FGM.
Youth advocates are best placed to engage their peers and other youths.
Youth are also the driving force of developments to eliminate harmful traditional
Youth are the next generation of key actors. Thus, engaging them on FGM
will ensure that tomorrow’s policymakers, doctors, midwives, social workers,
and parents are informed, responsive, and are advocates of change.
So the second question is how do we get the youths
on board? How can we really get them empowered and equipped to be part of this
campaign? The strategies are as follows;
on Secondary schools, religious youth groups/association, community youth
groups/associations, age grades, social clubs, and Social media as platforms to
reach out to this young people and build their capacity and inspire them to
young girls who are already knowledgeable will take a decision not to submit
themselves to be mutilated, especially in communities where teenagers are
young girls and boys of today will one day get married. They will also take a
decision never to mutilate their daughters.
people can engage our parents, family members and friends on the need to
abandon the practice.
people should speak out when either they, their siblings, your friend or
someone in their neighborhood is about to be subjected to FGM.
people can become #EndFGM advocates
in all associations where they belong to, be it in school, church, community,
age grades and social clubs.
signing up to the Endcuttinggirls Social media campaign on various social media
platforms, young people can use their own personal social media handles to
share some of our contents, and
make posts that show their support for ending FGM.
line with the above strategies, since 2015, the young SMAs across the 5 project
states have worked with secondary schools, religious and community youth groups
to sensitize young people on FGM,
The SMAs build the capacity of the girls to speak
out when they are at risk of being mutilated, and let them understand their
roles even as young people in accelerating efforts to end the practice.
Many of the young people reached in this manner
have being doing wonderful #EndFGM works as a direct outcome of their capacity
When the youths are well informed and equipped,
there are several ways they can unleash their youth power to help solve the
problem of FGM. Their creativity and energy will be used to craft innovative
ideas to accelerate the change that we seek.
Time has come for young people out there to bring
out their youthful energy to lead and scale up this campaign. Why? Because…
Youth are the key to change. Youth should be empowered through education and
various approaches to bring about behavioural change in their family, communities and society. Youth should be involved in making decisions
in all matters that concern or will affect them.
As we celebrate today, we
have to appreciate every
individual, group or organization that have been at the fore front of the
campaign to end FGM in Nigeria and the globe at large.
With only a decade remaining for
achieving SDG Target 5.3 – the elimination of harmful practices including FGM
by 2030 – we need to galvanize the global movement to accelerate efforts to
eliminate female genital mutilation. This is why we must engage youth to
accelerate the campaing to end FGM.
Thanks for being part of our
conversation today. Join us every Thursday 5-7pm. Visit our website www.endcuttinggirls.org and
kindly follow the handle “Endcuttinggirls Nigeria’’ on all social media
platforms. It’s time to hear and respond to your questions and/or opinions
based on the conference. Keep them coming.