FGM in Emergency and Humanitarian Contexts

Good practices from the field


During the stakeholder dialogue, experts identified a series of good practices of how to improve prevention and care of Female Genital Mutilation and other types of GBV in humanitarian and crisis contexts. These good practices were taken from field experience and existing literature.  They should be further explored, scaled up and invested in.

In this article we have included a few examples, the full list, as well as references, can be found in the report.

SOMALIA/SUDAN: Piloted in Somalia and Sudan, UNICEF developed the ‘Communities Care: Transforming Lives and Preventing Violence programme’, in response to the need to increase access to quality care and support services for sexual violence survivors. It also aims to develop and test effective strategies to prevent VAWG in conflict-affected settings. Through a community-based model (via ‘facilitated dialogue’), the programme presents an opportunity for positive change in social norms that can contribute to gender equality and decrease gender-based violence (GBV) and discrimination.

The Global Media Campaign (GMC) trains religious leaders, activists and journalists, on how to use media to end FGM and supports them to broadcast to their own communities directly, in their own language, using their own words and amplify messages to end FGM. GMC carried out a survey which revealed more than 1 in 4 people who heard religious leaders denounce FGM, said that they would stop cutting their children. Similarly, as asylum seekers in refugee camps often gather in common areas to listen to their national radio stations, this presents a key opportunity to broadcast messages against FGM in humanitarian settings, right before the news when more people are listening, by buying airtime.

BURKINA FASO: In regions of Burkina Faso where armed groups are in command, it is sometimes very difficult to address FGM because the groups do not allow discussions on these types of issues (FGM, child marriage). Community-based organizations find creative ways to work around this by inviting to group discussions on themes such as “peace and social cohesion”.

MALI: During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Malian community-based organization developed posters combining messaging on Covid-19 prevention with awareness-raising FGM.

REPUBLIC OF GUINEA: during the COVID-19 pandemic the association ASD, in the framework of a project coordinated by AIDOS, and supported by the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Program on FGM, mainstreamed messages to promote the abandonment of FGM into consumables distributed to the population such as hand sanitizers. Consumables were distributed in the occasion of a series of sensitizations activities on FGM where participants were informed on COVID-19 prevention measures and sensitized on possible linkages between COVID-19 and FGM. Particular attention was given to avoiding that girls, left home from school due to the pandemic, might be subjected to FGM. 80% of the targeted population declared that they hadn’t received any other prevention material or information about COVID-19 before.

BELGIUM: During the COVID-19 pandemic , GAMS Belgium provided information about the pandemic to the migrant communities they work with, in African languages spoken by the communities. The organization provided assistance, support and translation services to FGM survivors using online communication tools. Not only did this strengthen COVID-19 prevention and enhance well-being of vulnerable migrant communities, but it also ensured that the relationship with communities was maintained and that previous FGM prevention work was not lost when face-to-face activities had to be discontinued. 

SUDAN: Since 1999, MSF have strongly opposed the practice of any form of FGM. In 2006 MSF declared a Zero-Tolerance Policy in Tagadom hospital (Port-Sudan) on re-infibulation and has started a reproductive health project with a specific focus on FGM since 2007. In Tagadom Hospital, health promotion to communities also started to spread more awareness on the practices and complications of FGM. Sensitization on FGM complications is done inside and outside Tagadom hospital and well accepted by the population, particularly female. In September 2019, zero-tolerance for FGM, including non-reinfibulation, was incorporated into MSF Policy for Reproductive Health and Sexual Violence Care. The Policy states among other obligations, that “teams should spend time explaining the rationale for MSF’s position of not re-infibulating to health staff and the local population”.

The Plan International project, called Girls Out Loud, uses social media platforms to give girls a safe space to openly discuss issues relevant to them. The insights gained from these discussions are used to find solutions to the problems they face and support them to become leaders on these issues, in their communities and beyond. The project is now live in 16 countries, among which Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the UK.

IRAQ: Supported by WADI (Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Cooperation), the independent community Iraqi Kurdish radio, Radio Denge NWE, broadcasts daily for 11 hours on the radio FM 88.6 MHz in Halabja governorate, Sharazoor, Hawraman and Arbat. The morning programs are broadcasted in Kurmanji dialect and in Arabic, and deal with hot topics of local society, focusing especially on refugees and internally displaced people, but also other health, social or cultural issues. The programme includes daily coverage of youth and women’s issues, as well as daily awareness on FGM, women’s rights, and more.

KENYA: In 2017, a group of Kenyan teenagers called “The Restorers” have created an App called i-Cut to help girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation to get legal and medical assistance. Girls who are forced to undergo the procedure can also alert local authorities by pressing a panic button on the App, or can seek shelter by pressing the Rescue Centers’ button.

NIGERIA: The UNICEF digital tool U-Report, a free messaging tool that empowers young people around the world to engage with and speak out on issues that matter to them, has managed to reach 1 million Nigerians. The tool works to collect and analyse data in real-time, by gathering opinions, information and evidence, to amplify community voices. This data can be mapped at local level to form national data and used to informing advocacy and development.

TANZANIA: Crowd2Map Tanzania is an entirely volunteer crowdsourced mapping project putting rural Tanzania on the map. Since 2015, trained volunteers have been adding schools, hospitals, roads, buildings and villages to OpenStreetMap with the help of volunteers worldwide and on the ground in Tanzania, to work with authorities to prevent FGM and provide support to survivors.

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