Female Genital Mutilation Has Declined in South-east, Globally, Say UNICEF, UNFPA

  • NGO tasks Kwara residents on harmful practice

Amby Uneze in Owerri and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have jointly declared that the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) within the South-east region of Nigeria and other places around the world has declined by nearly a quarter (25 per cent) since year 2000.

This stemmed from UNICEF’s joint efforts with the UNFPA to end the scourge in some countries, disclosed at a recent one-day policy dialogue with Women of Divine Destiny Initiative (WODDI) with support from UNICEF/UNFPA in Owerri, capital of Imo State with the theme ‘Ending female genital mutilation is a political decision’.

Also, a joint statement issued by UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta H. Fore and UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem was presented in Owerri, the Imo State capital by UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh, on the recent International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, marked worldwide on February 6 annually.
Conteh said “Around the world, momentum to eliminate female genital mutilation is building. Political will, community engagement, and targeted investment are changing practices and changing lives.”

According to Conteh, in countries where UNFPA and UNICEF work jointly to end female genital mutilation, girls are one-third less likely to undergo this harmful practice today than they were in 1997. More than 25 million people in some 18,000 communities across 15 countries have publicly disavowed the practice since 2008. Globally, its prevalence has declined by nearly a quarter since around 2000.

“This is good for girls and young women themselves; it is also good for their families and communities. Girls who are not subjected to the practice tend to grow up to be healthier and have healthier children. They are often better educated, earn higher incomes and are more empowered to make decisions about their own lives. Communities and countries that confront the harmful practice and commit to changing it reap commensurate benefits”, the statement says.

It however restated a call on governments at all levels, civil society organisations, as well as traditional and religious leaders to join together and end the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting in Imo State and Nigeria.

“Female genital mutilation is many things, including being a violent act that causes infection, disease, childbirth complications, and even death. A cruel practice that inflicts lasting emotional harm and preys on the most vulnerable, least powerful members of society – girls between infancy and age 15, as well as a violation of human rights that both reflects and perpetuates the low status of girls and women in too many places.

“The Sustainable Development Goals recognise that female genital mutilation undermines progress towards a more equal, just, and prosperous world. They set an ambitious target of eliminating all such harmful practices against girls and women by 2030”, it noted.
In her remarks, the wife of founder of Women of Divine Destiny Initiative (WODDI) and wife of the governor of the state, Mrs. Nkechi Rochas Okorocha commended all genuinely committed efforts to the elimination of the practice for their doggedness, dismissing it as an ill wind that blows no one any good.

In a related development, an Ilorin-based Non- Governmental Organisation, Theios Caregivers Initiative has called on the residents of Kwara state to continue to shun all forms of female genital mutilation because of its inherent effects on the women in the nearest future.

This, the organisation said would go a long way of accelerating the socio well being of the populace.

Executive Director, of the organisation, Oshiniwe Anthonia, made the call in Ilorin during the sensitisation awareness campaigns across the major streets of the state capital on the female genital mutilation.

In order to gain people’s attention, the organisation stitched many blades with safety pins on their clothes, a development that prompted people to be asking why and they explained to them.

Anthonia later told journalists that it was a difficult task to convince people to stop the act because the tradition has been with them over decades. She explained that the NGO is saddled with the responsibility of protecting children and human in general.

She stressed that the Theios Caregivers Initiative has done a lot of work mainly on protecting children physically, emotionally and sexually, the girl child education and sexual health.