Gender transformative approaches to ending Female Genital Mutilation
Addressing gender inequalities in anti-FGM programming
“While communities cite numerous reasons for having girls undergo FGM, as a gendered harmful practice, it is an expression of power and control over girls’ and women’s bodies and their sexuality. FGM is a form of gender-based violence and is rooted in unequal power relations between men and women that are embedded in a system that sustains itself through discriminatory gender stereotypes and norms, and unequal access to and control over resources. For girls and women with limited skills, competencies, and assets, marriage is often a matter of economic security and social inclusion. As a result, FGM is often performed to enhance a girl’s marriageability. Although parents may be aware of the risks involved with FGM, they will often have their daughters undergo the practice as the gains (economic security and social inclusion) outweigh the loss (health consequences)”.
UNICEF, 2021, GENDER TRANSFORMATIVE APPROACHES FOR THE ELIMINATION OF FGM TECHNICAL NOTE
Adolescent girls and young women experience multiple and intersecting forms of violence from a young age. In addition to harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and child, early and forced marriage, they may be subjected to different forms of intimate partner violence as well as non-partner sexual violence. Such forms of GBV may overlap throughout a woman’s life.
Whilst some progress has been made towards achieving gender equality and tackling GBV, including FGM, girls and women around the world face practical barriers, discrimination and stigma every day when seeking to fulfill these basic human rights.
As any other form of Gender-Based Violence, FGM is closely tied to power relations between men and women. It is a manifestation of gender inequality and as such it needs to be addressed.
This is why experts are stressing the need for programmes that aim to inform and sensitize communities about the negative impacts of FGM, and to eliminate the practice in the long run, to incorporate gender transformative approaches.
Gender transformative approaches include measures aiming to inform/sensitize or even transform men and boys on the issue of toxic masculinity, to challenge gendered social norms, including harmful gender stereotypes, and favoring women and girls’ empowerment. Such programmes must challenge gender roles and gender power dynamics, and work to counter them both at institutional and society levels.
In October and November 2021, AIDOS, GAMS Belgium and the End FGM European Network, organized a virtual International Stakeholder Dialogue (ISD) on the topic of “gender transformative approaches to ending FGM” (GTA). The Dialogue gathered stakeholders from the public, private and civil-society sectors, in Africa, Europe and beyond, working towards the elimination of FGM.
Three meetings (2 hours each) were organized in the months of October and November. In the first meeting, the topic was introduced and examples of GTA to ending FGM were shared. In the second session, participants shared experiences from the field, focusing on the challenges they faced. Finally, in the third meeting possible solutions to the challenges were identified. The aim of the ISD 2021 was to bring concrete recommendations for donors and key actors in the field of FGM prevention and care, through the Donor Working group on FGM (DWG) which meets each year in November.
More information on the International Stakeholde Dialogue 2021 here: https://copfgm.org/2021/09/international-stakeholder-dialogue
In this section of the website, you will find a highlight of the key results of the International Stakeholder Dialogue and the discussion that followed within the CoP FGM google group in November 2021.
Orchid project (2021) A gender-transformative approach to ending female genital cutting: Changing harmful gender and power imbalances – Policy discussion paper October 2021
Plan International, 2019, OUR GENDER TRANSFORMATIVE APPROACH: TACKLING THE ROOT CAUSES OF GENDER INEQUALITY, Access : https://plan-international.org/eu/blog-alex-munive-gender-transformative-approach
RUTGERS, 2021, GENDER TRANSFORMATIVE PROGRAMMING QUICKSCAN, Access: https://www.getupspeakout.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/Rutgers%20GTA%20Quickscan.pdf
UNICEF, 2021, GENDER TRANSFORMATIVE APPROACHES FOR THE ELIMINATION OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION TECHNICAL NOTE, Accessible here: https://www.unicef.org/documents/gender-transformative-approaches-elimination-female-genital-mutilation
“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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