The importance of putting FGM on the agenda of governments was stressed, including through the inclusion of specific budget lines dedicated to the fight against FGM as well as ensuring the participation of multiple ministries on the issue: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women / Women’s Rights, Social Affairs as well as Ministry of Finance, Cooperation and Foreign Affairs.
It is also crucial to involve affected communities, including youth, in a systematic and direct way in all stages of the program: from formulation to implementation and evaluation.
In addition, any action must be monitored and evaluated.
In the health sector
While the work towards abandoning FGM must go beyond the health sector, a lot of work is still to be done in this field.
- The health sector must play a role not only in the care but also in the prevention of FGM. Too many opportunities to raise awareness about FGM are missed by health professionals.
- Integration of FGM in SRHR programs and maternal and child health programs: this needs to be done at the government level but also at WHO level (guidelines for countries, recommendations, integration of FGM in their child health manuals, training …)
- The importance of the day-to-day work of health staff, including general practitioners on the frontline. Need for better integration of FGM into their school curriculum that would allow these highly respected members of the community to play a vital role in prevention.
- Find opportunities to integrate FGM into broader health programs.
- Health professionals should dare to talk to their patients.
To know more:
- WHO has published a new clinical guide for health professionals : https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/health-care-girls-women-living-with-FGM/en/
- UEFGM E-learning tool available in 9 languages, with a specific module on health : https://uefgm.org/index.php/e-learning/
In programs aimed at improving women’s right and/or focusing on the fight against violence againt women
- While FGM is a serious violation of the rights of girls and women, it is rarely included in major government programs aiming at combatting violence against women (domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment …).
- Integrating FGM into sex education sessions is necessary, through a holistic approach to sexuality and a participatory methodology. Addressing FGM in a broader context of gender norms and gender stereotypes regarding sexuality.
- Professionals working with the primary needs of women affected by FGM should also be informed about gender issues and be able to incorporate this aspect into their work.
In others sectors
- Putting FGM on the agenda of religious leaders and institutions : Importance of empowering religious staff in terms of not only religious but also medical and sociological arguments. Since religious structures are often very hierarchical, it may be necessary to reach the person at the very top of the ladder, sometimes avoiding addressing the issue head-on. Religious leaders can use their sermons and influence in the community to address FGM and contribute to prevention.
- Mainstreaming in media: newspapers, radio, popular films, as well as tools such as community theater to raise community awareness. … and make art a vector for awareness and struggle.
- School programs, in countries directly affected by FGM as well as in countries hosting communities affected by FGM.
- … and explore new issues, such as the impact of global warming on female genital mutilation. Example of Kenya: With drought, pastoralists have lost a lot of livestock, as families receive animals when they marry their daughter, they are encouraged to have their daughters undergo FGM and get married very early to rebuild their livestock.