We intend “Mainstreaming” as addressing FGM in wider programmes, such as those on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), gender-based violence (GBV), human rights and women’s rights, and in multiple sectors – such as education, asylum, health, research, law enforcement, child protection.
There is broad acknowledgment that mainstreaming of Female Genital Mutilation is key to ending the practise and in ensuring that all affected women and girls are reached in an appropriate way by services. Some evidence shows that professionals can play a major role in protection, prevention and care of girls and women with/at risk of FGM and that initiatives tend to be more successful if they are incorporated into larger programmes/already existing services.
For example, in Africa health professionals’ involvement is crucial to tackle medicalisation, and in Europe working in the context of asylum has proven a valid entry point to care for affected women and foster the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation.
Moreover, more emphasis is required on the needs of girls and women living with FGM and to address the issue as a form of SGBV, part of the continuum of violence against women.
According to the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme performance analysis report for Phase II (2018) :
“People are more likely to embrace messages that come from respected members of the community such as midwives and teachers, as opposed to outsiders. Additionally, women and girls who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation need timely access to services – such as health care and psychosocial support services – that are available to address the physical, emotional and psychological consequences of the practice”.
Several other international institutions, such as UN WOMEN and the European Union also recognize the importance of mainstreaming FGM in different sectors in order to end the practice.
The same goes for civil society. The End FGM European Network, for example, has produced a document on building bridges as a strategy to end FGM, where one of the main recommendations is to invest in raising awareness and training civil servants and professionals from various sectors on issues related to FGM.