At the conference on the systematic integration of FGM held in Paris in November 2018 by the CoP-MGF, two panels were devoted to sharing good practices in the mainstreaming of FGM in different sectors. In general, the importance of mainstreaming FGM in the concerns of governments was stressed, particularly through the creation of budget lines specifically dedicated to the fight against FGM and through the investment of multiple ministries on the issue: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women’s Rights, Social Affairs but also Ministry of Finance, Cooperation and Foreign Affairs.
Mainstreaming FGM means addressing FGM in broader programmes such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, human rights and women's rights, as well as in different sectors - such as education, asylum, health, research, law enforcement, child protection.
Few studies have been conducted on alternative rites of passage. Some preliminary conclusions can be drawn from the existing ones. Recently, ARP has received some criticism, after having been completely unquestioned for years.
To emphasize the role of community participation for the success of ARPs, Bertine Pries from Amref underlined that within the past decade, 17,000 girls in the Maasai and Samburu communities have gone through the ARP program, which would not have been possible if cultural decision-makers and community gatekeepers had not taken ownership and leadership of the fight against FGM/C.
The Population Council implemented a comparative study on the alternative rites of passage (ARP) implemented in the Kuria and Kisii districts, Kenya. The report investigated some of the reasons for their failure. In the Kuria community, FGM is traditionally a public issue. The Council of Elders’ establishes the dates for the “cutting season”. FGM is publicly celebrated even if the public ceremonies are losing importance.
Amref Health Africa is an international NGO that has chosen to focus on the implementation of alternative rites of passage in order to fight against FGM. This approach is used in the integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene & ending FGM (ARPWASH) projects in Kilindi (Tanzania) and Kajiado (Kenya). Bertine Pries shared the NGOs experience with the Community of Practice.
In order to act on economic factors, female genital mutilation must no longer be considered as a criterion of eligibility for marriage, and marriage must no longer be seen as necessary to ensure the material survival and social acceptance of women. As a result, it is necessary to change the consciousness, material conditions and decision-making possibilities of women (1). Part of this involves empowering women through better education and improved employment opportunities. In this way, their survival is ensured even without marriage, and economic dependence is reduced (2).
In “Seeking to save money, Sierra Leone village gives up FGM”, Nellie Peyton presents the special case of the Thawuya village (Sierra Leone) where economic costs surrounding the practice of FGM were so important that they progressively gave it up.
On February 6th 2020 – the International Day Against FGM- the WHO’s cost calculation tool was launched in Brussels. It is available online following this link: https://srhr.org/fgmcost/cost-calculator/ The WHO FGM Cost Calculator estimates the current and projected financial health care costs associated with FGM in 30 specific countries, as well as the potential cost savings to health systems when reducing new cases of FGM.
Research on the consequences and economic drivers of FGM is rare and an increase in focus on these areas would be clearly be beneficial. Most of the current research focuses on medical care, primariuly on obstetrics. The premises for a more systematic study of the economic drivers of FGM are gradually emerging.