ADDIS ABABA – Two United Nations agencies have called for a sustainable collaboration with men and boys in order to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Ethiopia and enable girls and women to fully realize their rights and potential.
The call was made by the UNFPA and UNICEF today in observance of the International Day of Zero Tolerance against FGM under the theme, “partnering with men and boys to transform social and gender norms to end female genital mutilation”.
Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in the last decade in the reduction of FGM prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49 from 74% in 2005 to 65% in 2016.
However, the country is still home to 25 million circumcised women and girls, accounting for the largest absolute number in Eastern and Southern Africa.
“Girls are subjected to FGM without a choice, and it is a clear violation of their protection rights,” said UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Aboubacar Kampo.
“We must collectively redouble our efforts to end this harmful practice including scaling up our engagement with men and boys to change attitudes so that the next generation of girls can live healthier lives,” he added.
FGM: Common Rationale
The most common rationale for the practice of FGM on girls and women is meeting societal expectations including traditions, culture, and norms, preserving women’s virginity until marriage and family honor.
This reasoning is claims founded on false beliefs and culture and is passed on from one generation to another over time until they are believed to be true, the two UN agencies noted.
The duo see a better partnership with men and boys as a critical step in communicating the facts about FGM and its inherent risks.
UNFPA’s Representative Suzanne Mandong said Men and boys are key players in realizing transformative results in “ending gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including FGM.”
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the start of our operations in Ethiopia, we recommit to strengthen our partnership with the Ethiopian Government and other partners to eliminate this practice which is undermining the rights of women and girls to bodily autonomy,” Mandong added.
Ethiopia has been making progress in attitude change towards FGM with 86.7% of boys and men, and 79.3% of girls and women aged 15-49 believing that FGM should not continue as a practice.
Its National Costed Roadmap to End Child Marriage and FGM by 2025 put working with men and boys as one of its major strategies in the effort to spare an estimated 3.6 million girls who are at risk of undergoing FGM.
The country, however, needs to accelerate the effort 8 times faster to achieve the SDG 5.3 target to eliminate FGM by 2030, according to the UN.
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