The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) joins the global community in observing the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation on Feb. 6.
The first ladies of Africa declared this day of observation to foster awareness of the devastating effects of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) and to renew the call for the abandonment of this harmful practice. To increase awareness of the health impact of FGM/C, the Inter-African Committee declared this year's theme to be "Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting."
According to the World Health Organization, as many as 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with the consequences of this dangerous practice. The procedure, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, is largely performed on girls from infancy to the age 15. While reports suggest that the rate at which FGM/C is practiced is dropping in some areas, as many as 30 million girls under the age of 15 may still be at risk for the procedure.
The U.S. government supports the women and men around the world who denounce this egregious practice and act to abolish it. While we have made tremendous progress over the past decade, work still lies ahead. We must all work together – men, women, grandfathers, grandmothers, community and religious leaders, government, civil society and multilateral organizations – to overturn deeply entrenched social norms that are not only harmful to women and girls, but also to our communities and societies.
This ugly practice still happens in Nigeria today. The Nigeria's federal ministry of health and indeed the healthcare community frowns at it, but culture die hard. Join the conversation on FGM via this #EndFGM