Endcuttinggirls Facebook Event Page
Anchor: Raymond Okpani
25th February, 2020
5pm – 7pm (Nigeria Time)
Over the years, the campaign to end
female genital mutilation through the initiative of UNICEF #endcuttinggirls has
become one of the most successful campaign towards eliminating female genital
Let me re-emphasize that in the recent times, the discussion, campaign
and issues around harmful traditional practices especially FGM have become one
of the most talked-about topics.
However, despite the massive
interventions across FGM-practicing communities, with a lot of messages, there
is need to use multi-pronged approach to keep driving the change to end this
Today, we will be
looking at the various ways young people are changing the norms to accelerate
the campaign to #endcuttinggirls
According to WHO, it is estimated that more than 200 million girls and
women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries
where the practice is concentrated and are living with the negative consequences
of the practice.
also estimated that 3 million girls are at the risk of undergoing female
genital mutilation every year. So, what is Female
Genital Mutilation (FGM)!?
Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve the partial or total
removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for
non-medical reasons. FGM is also widely called various local and traditional
names according to the community where it is practiced.
FGM is a form of
violence which is based on cultural beliefs and gender norms. This harmful
practice is performed on babies, girls and women depending on the community
In most communities,
FGM is seen as a protection of virginity, a beautification process, and in a
number of cultures is regarded as an essential precondition of marriage. There
are different forms of FGM, some of which involve more radical excisions in the
genital area than others.
The World Health
Organization (WHO) has classified FGM into four types, and they are all
practiced in Nigeria.
Type 1 is defined as the partial or total
removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The subgroups of
Type 1 FGM are: type 1a, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; type 1b,
removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.
Type 2 entails the 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 2a, removal of the labia minora
only; type 2b, partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora; type
2c, partial or total removal of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora.
Type 3 involves the 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
Subgroups of Type III
FGM are: type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; type IIIb,
removal and apposition of the labia majora.
Type 4 is also known as unclassified and involves all
other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for
example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.
The FGM Type 4 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 Africa including Nigeria.
FGM has so many
consequences including short and long terms consequences ranging from excessive
bleeding, trauma, Contraction of infections, etc.
elimination of FGM was originally regarded as a mere question of health
education and information, today FGM is recognized as a socio-cultural problem
that is deeply rooted within the societies in which it is practiced.
Thus social change is
indispensable if the practice is to be ended permanently. Commitment to ending
FGM is symbolic of the effort to strengthen the position of women and women’s
rights generally, because FGM is a serious violation of human rights, and its
elimination would serve to advance virtually every one of the UN Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs).
In the last decade,
UNICEF under the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Elimination of FGM, has
supported strategic stakeholders, advocates, government institutions and civil
society organizations (NGOs) to collectively and innovatively work together to
So many approaches,
methodologies and various levels of advocacy have been deployed by various
stakeholders with the youth championing major aspect of the initiative.
Many girls and young women are still subjected
to genital mutilation in the name of ‘tradition.’ In the beginning, it was
difficult to talk to anyone about that issue, as this is an unnegotiable topic
and not ready for open discussion.
But against all odds, young people have
taken to the stage in the campaign and deploying all possible strategies to
combat the practice of FGM. I will be sharing about key
strategies that young people are using to change Traditions Fueling FGM In
Young people are predominantly affected by the practice of FGM, they have been
helping to end this practice by engaging in aggressive awareness campaigns in
rural communities, where cultural beliefs and societal pressure to conform to
existing traditional practices force parents to let their girl children go
through this excruciatingly painful and medically unnecessary procedure.
schools: The youth have been engaging with those
who can various stakeholders across communities. Additionally, most youth
advocates have directly engaged with various public and private schools to
sensitize the students, especially girls, about the dangers of FGM. Since it is
girls who are affected, such visits are led by fellow youths and in most cases,
a female survivor of FGM who shared their personal experiences.
schools and religious leaders: The youth also engage
with religious leaders to speak out against FGM through the various religious
platforms. For example, Nigeria is made
up of highly developed and diversified religious groups, and the religious
leaders are given enormous respect and weight in Nigerian society. Based on the
respect they carry; youths have been engaging the religious leaders to convince
their parents and community leaders to stop the practice of FGM.
government support: One of the most effective
ways to record maximum result in the campaign to EndFGM is through government
support. As a result, young people are getting approvals for government’s
support, while their advocacy efforts have led to and strong political
commitment to enact strict penalties for those who still practice FGM. Young people have been leading the way in
tackling development, gender, and health issues, which are major components to
ending the practice of FGM. They just need to be given more opportunities.
to parents/traditional leaders: Young people have
been highlighting the harmful health implications of FGM to parents and
traditional leaders in communities where it is practiced, explaining that girl
children who do not undergo FGM grow up to be healthy women and are no less
female than girls who undergo FGM/C
Personal commitments: Youth, as future parents, are making
personal commitments not to allow themselves to be subjected to FGM, and they
are also promising not to subject their own children to FGM in the future.
In Nigeria, the youth are members of the Community Based Child Protection Committee
(CBCPC), where they are monitoring the compliance to commitments made during
the public declaration of abandonment of FGM.
school-level art contests has been a very strategic
initiative in the FGM campaign because it allows people from different cultures
and different times to communicate with each other via images, sounds and
stories. Young people have been using various Art contest as a vehicle for
social change especially in the campaign to #EndFGM
art contests have also given voice to the politically or socially
disenfranchised. And in most cases, a song, film or novel can rouse emotions in
those who encounter it, inspiring them to rally for change.
Peer education: Peer education aims to
influence young people’s attitudes and behaviour patterns for the better. In Nigeria young people that have
been trained on FGM inform other young people, their peers, about health and
gave them their support in coping with their problems and telling them where
they can seek for support.
Partnering with school clubs: Youth in school clubs
(Health, Press, Debating Society, etc.) are collaborating with UNICEF-partners
and are being trained to include ending FGM into their regular Club activities
in the school. These clubs are very
active in creating awareness about FGM in their schools.
Building Skills training: UNICEF and
partners are training girls (in-and-out of school) on ‘Life Building Skills”
and FGM. This empowers them to talk to
their peers, family and community members about the need to end FGM.
Intergenerational dialogue: Years of experience have
shown that education and awareness work alone do not bring about behaviour change. Therefore, youth are engaging in the
intergenerational dialogue, which is based on the principle of listening and
questioning rather than instructing. It enables participants to reflect on
their values, customs, traditions and expectations and to consider
whether, when, how and under what
conditions change should take place.
There are so many other
ways youth are using to accelerate the campaign to end female genital
mutilation but the points mentioned above have formed some of the most
effective methods and ideas to engage various traditions and ending the
practice across all communities.
youth are the key to change. It is essential that they become empowered through
education and various approaches to bring about behavioural change. It is equally
important to involve their social environment into the change process – the
decision-makers, that is, such as parents and traditional and religious
This is where
we will end today’s segment of the conference and will gladly standby to take
your questions. Thank you for staying with us
To learn more
about the @endcuttinggirls Social Media Campaign, please visit
www.endcuttinggirls.org for information.
You may also follow our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls
At this point,
I will give room for questions and contributions from participants. Thank you
for joining us.
Together we will end FGM in this generation.