Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, says eliminating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country by 2030 is crucial to realising many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Tallen, who said this at the inauguration of the “Movement for Good to End Female Genital Mutilation” in Nigeria, said the SDG targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth were being tthreatened by continuous practice of FGM.
The movement is a collaboration between the Ministry of Women Affairs, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and other development partners to end FGM in the country.
She added that “the practice denies girls and women the right to equal education opportunities for decent work and their health, particularly sexual and reproductive health.
“FGM is a traditional practice inflicted on girls and women worldwide, and it is widely recognised as a violation of human right, which is deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and perceptions of advocates and generations.
“The procedure involves the partial or total remote removal of the external female genital, causing injury to the organs.”
According to her, FGM is seen as a rite of passage of a girl-child to womanhood, usually encouraged by family members in the fear and belief of social and societal sanctions.
Mr Matthias Schmale, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2018) reported decline since 2013 in the prevalence of FGM from approximately 25 per cent to 20 per cent.
He added that the highest rates remained in the South East at 35 per cent and South West at 30 per cent among women of reproductive age 15 to 49 years.
He said “another aspect of this is that the medicalisation of FGM in Nigeria remains a threat in some states, for example Ekiti, Osun and Oyo.
“Although the overall prevalence has decreased, analysis of the data shows an increased level of mutilation through medicalisation.”
Schmale said the data also showed that many of the mutilations were carried out on girls 14 years and below, indicating that the prevalence of the practice was perpetrated in early life.
Emmanuelle Blatmann, France Ambassador to Nigeria, said that the country had made the fight against FGM a priority and that in the spirit of the SDGs, the French Embassy was fully committed to supporting initiatives aiming to combat the phenomenon.
She said the practice constitutes serious attack on the integrity, dignity, safety and fundamental rights of girls and women, as well as major obstacle to achieving equality between women and men.
Mary Leonard, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said that the country had been steadfast in its partnership with Federal Government to eliminate the practice.
She said “when the U.S. designs its foreign policy with the rights and needs of women and girls in mind, it is effective, humane and likely to make a lasting difference in peoples’ lives.
“And when we support women, we foster change on a much broader scale because it is often women doing the hard work to make that change happen.”
The movement will initially target five million adolescents, women at the risk of FGM and others working toward eliminating the practice and mobilise local action using the pledge #Act2endFGM.
The expected outcomes are increased state and local government capacity for the enactment and implementation of existing laws and policies to eradicate FGM.
Others are prevention, protection and care for women and girl survivors and those at risk of FGM and improved community and interpersonal engagement to eradicate discriminatory norms and practices that promote FGM.