In a report, the United Nations Children’s Fund stressed the significance of continuing to educate girls and women about the harmful effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) as the world observed the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on February 6.
Daughters of educated women were less likely to be cut than those whose mothers were not educated, according to UNICEF.
The World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation (FGM) as any procedure that involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia or any other harm to the female genital organs for purposes other than medical. For girls and women, the practice has no health benefits and increases the risk of neonatal deaths, complications during childbirth, cysts, infections, and severe bleeding and urination issues.
International recognition exists for FGM as a violation of women’s and girls’ human rights. It violates children’s rights and is almost always performed on minors by traditional practitioners.
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In 30 countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced by over 200 million girls and women who are alive today.
Most FGM occurs on young girls between the ages of 0 and 15.
Girls’ and women’s human rights are violated by FGM.
Health systems are estimated to spend US$ 1.4 billion annually on treating the health complications of female genital mutilation (FGM); this amount is projected to increase unless immediate action is taken to end the practice.
According to a UNICEF report titled “Ending Female Genital Mutilation: Data that delivers change and results for girls and women,” roughly 35% of girls in the Southeast between the ages of 0 and 14 are impacted by FGM, with the Southwest having a 30% prevalence rate.
It went on to say that it was concerning that 21% of girls in Oyo State and almost 24% of girls in Ekiti State had undergone female genital mutilation.
According to a different report titled “The power of education to end female genital mutilation,” raising awareness of the risks associated with FGM and the groups that do not practice it can be achieved through education. Education also encourages inquiry and dialogue and gives people the chance to assume social roles that do not rely on the practice of FGM for acceptance. The premise that educated women are less likely to have their daughters cut than uneducated or uninformed women forms the basis of the relationship between female genital mutilation and education. One scenario is that girls form social bonds with mentors and peers at school who oppose female genital mutilation.
This could offer a reference group in which noncompliance with FGM is not penalized normatively. In addition to offering a forum for conversation, educational environments can foster a social atmosphere that helps generate new ideas. Furthermore, educated women might be more exposed to media messages, intervention programs, and local and global discourse that condemns the practice, which could lead to penalties for FGM practitioners.
Additionally, Celine Lafoucriere, the Chief of UNICEF Lagos Office, advocated in an interview for increased legal action, advocacy, and education regarding FGM.
According to Lafoucriere, “There is a need to promote alternative cultural practices that respect the rights and dignity of girls and to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of FGM.” By raising awareness of the negative effects of FGM and promoting alternative cultural practices that respect girls’ rights and dignity, proper enlightenment and education can end the harmful tradition and ensure a brighter future for girls.
“Health, education, social services, and justice have a major role to play in providing holistic support to survivors, addressing their physical, psychological, and emotional needs, and empowering them to become advocates for change,” stated Denis Onoise, a UNICEF child protection specialist.