Two United Nations agencies have launched a $44 million programme to reduce female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) by 40 per cent by 2015 and to end the harmful traditional practice within a generation.
Launched by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the initiative will encourage communities in 16 African countries with high prevalence to abandon the practice, which has serious physical and psychological effects. Partnering with the agencies will be Governments, religious leaders, reproductive health providers, media and civil society.
UNFPA says that annually, between two and three million women and girls are subjected to FGM/C, the partial or total removal of external female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons. More than 100 million women and girls worldwide have undergone the practice.
Purnima Mane, UNFPA’s Deputy Executive Director (Programme), urged the international community to “do a better job to protect the millions of women and girls who are at risk every year.”
Ending the practice will contribute to achieving international development targets, and will enhance the human rights of women and girls, contribute to their empowerment, improve maternal health and reduce child mortality, she added.
In addition to many African nations, various forms of FGM/C have also been reported in parts of some Middle Eastern and Asian countries. It is also practiced in immigrant communities around the world.