The lottery of birth
The lottery of birth

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The lottery of birth

3.2.5 Changing things for women

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Figure 13 A Community Mobiliser in Somalia talks to a group of women about FGM in efforts to halt the practise.

In 2015, there was an International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM lead by medical practitioners working in the field.

Medical practitioners are being urged not only to not take part in FGM but to treat those affected by it and to use their standing in the community to eradicate the custom, everywhere and anywhere it is found.

Read an extract from the ‘Joint Statement on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)’ from UNFPA and UNICEF below.

UNFPA, UNICEF, the International Confederation of Midwives and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics issued a call to action for health workers around the world to mobilize against FGM. Female genital mutilation (FGM) violates the human rights and undermines the health and well-being of some 3 million girls each year. More than 130 million girls and women in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated today have undergone some form of FGM – and the impact on their lives is enormous.

The support of health workers in the global effort to end FGM is critical. Front-line health workers have inside knowledge of the social dynamics in the communities they serve and the social norms that perpetuate FGM, and they can speed up the rapidly declining support for the practice. Their patients know and trust them. Health workers also have a deep understanding of the harmful consequences of this practice. They see the urinary, menstrual, and obstetric complications — including haemorrhage, infection and death — caused by it. And, they also witness the emotional wounds FGM inflicts, trauma which often lasts a lifetime.

Social norms, especially in tightly knit communities, can exert tremendous power over people’s lives. But social norms can also change when people use their power … when health workers, leaders, experts, and, most of all, girls and families, speak out and take action. On the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, let us take a stand together against FGM. The health, rights and well-being of millions of girls depend on it.

(UNFPA, 2015)

You will find out next about the impact of social media on the campaign against FGM.

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