Towards innovative financing to ending FGM? 

 Context 

 The findings of the last International Stakeholders’ Dialogue were clear: the participants in the ISD developed a series of recommendations to fill the gaps and challenges identified and to promote the implementation of gender-transformative approaches to ending FGM, and the question of funding was central, even crucial, for the actors in the field. Indeed, the recommendations to donors and funders mentioned the need for additional funding for actions on FGM. The actors in the field echoed the fact that this need for additional funding for the sector would be one of the means to sustain the efforts of several years which are increasingly threatened by the decline of actions in the field due to lack of funding, but also by the fact that they are now working on much more sustainable approaches. It was stated at this ISD that the time and scale of funding provided must be adequate to achieve the goals of gender transformation.  

Female genital mutilation (FGM) continues to threaten the health and well-being of millions of girls worldwide, deepening inequalities between girls and boys and discriminatory norms that affect girls (UNICEF, 2016). As a reminder, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM in 31 countries, with an additional 68 million women and girls at risk by 2030 (UNICEF global databases, 2022) .  

Progress is being made in eliminating harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, which is a target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.3. Today, girls are about one-third less likely to be subjected to FGM than they were 30 years ago, and 7 out of 10 girls and women in FGM-affected countries oppose the practice, so progress is being made (UNICEF, 2020; UNFPA and UNICEF, 2021).  

Although changes are underway, progress towards the elimination of FGM is not universal and not fast enough. In countries where the practice has become less common, progress would need to be at least 10 times faster for FGM in order to achieve the MDG target of eliminating FGM by 2030 (UNICEF, 2021e).  

Moreover, the impacts of COVID-19 threaten to set back global efforts to eliminate FGM. The consequences have not only further widened gender, economic and health risks for girls and women, but have also disrupted prevention programmes, which could lead to an additional 2 million girls being exposed to FGM between 2020 and 2030 (UNFPA, 2020).  

In addition, other trends that have affected and are hindering efforts to end harmful practices include demographic change, humanitarian crises arising from climate change and violent conflict, all of which have social, political and economic implications that disproportionately affect women and girls.  

As mentioned above, one of the biggest concerns is increased funding.  

Indeed, funding is urgently needed to support the implementation of programmes to end FGM and promote positive changes in the social and gender norms that sustain harmful practices (UN Women, 2021a; b). It is therefore observed that attempts to reduce the funding gap have not focused on harmful practices and, even when funds are set aside to end FGM, they are more often than not insufficient, short-term and inconsistent, thus failing to work in a sustainable manner and to be part of a transformation of social and gender norms.  

 In addition, a review of national development plans and voluntary national reviews suggests that MDG 5.3 has not been costed at the national level, hence the reason why there is no adequate budget. The reason why there is no investment envelope, no adequate national investment to stop the practices that are in place.  

Both the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have attempted to estimate the cost of eradicating FGM. UNFPA estimates that eliminating female genital mutilation by 2030 in 31 priority countries requires investments totalling US$2.1 billion.  

Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed in 2015, by 2030 requires more effective and efficient use of existing resources, but also the mobilisation of additional (financial) resources, from traditional and new sources.  

In 2021, the OECD also estimated that for low and middle income countries to achieve the MDGs, an additional $2.5 trillion per year would be needed. This is in addition to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (in 2020 and 2021), as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine (in 2022), which are likely to have exacerbated the financial gap. In response to these crises, national governments around the world have been forced to reallocate resources to additional spending on health and social protection/assistance, often in their home countries.  

Safeguarding and ring-fencing existing resources, while ensuring additional funding, is a priority for international organisations. Mobilising private funding for international development is therefore necessary to fill the existing and growing funding gap. Mobilising private funding for international development is therefore necessary and urgent to fill this existing and growing funding gap: it is in this logic that innovative/alternative financing can play an important role.  

In this way, the exploration of new financing instruments for the funding of actors in the field who are carrying out actions to ending FGM is becoming essential, but it should not replace traditional financing.

It is according to this perspective that international institutions have been calling for the mobilisation of other financial resources for some years now. This is known as innovative financing: it represents approaches and financing mechanisms that make it possible to mobilise additional resources through new instruments and financing mechanisms, or to use them in a new way; better use of traditional resources through more effective and efficient deployment: what about harmful practices such as FGM ? 

What do you think innovative financing is ? Have you ever heard of it ? How does it work ?

– Do you think it can be mobilised to address the funding challenges faced by actors who are carrying out actions to ending FGM ?

– To what extent can we call on this kind of funding for the implementation of new and innovative approaches, including gender transformative approaches, to ending FGM ?    

references

“The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation” is part of the “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM” project, supported by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM”.
The project is coordinated by AIDOS in partnership with GAMS Belgium.

The views expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UNFPA, UNICEF or any other agency or organization.

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