International Consultant: to conduct a study on cross-border FGM and child marriage, WCARO, Dakar, Senegal

Contract Type: Consultancy
Closing date: 5 November 2020 - 5:00pm(Dakar time)
Duty station: Dakar, Sénégal

Duration and working schedule :

The duration of the international consultancy will be 40 days, within the period November 2020 to January 2021. The international consultant will work with the support of national consultants in the five target countries.

Place where services are to be delivered :

The consultant will be based in his home country.

Purpose of consultancy :

The purpose of the consultancy is to do an in-depth study of the cross-border practice of FGM and Child Marriage in the West and Central Africa region, to better understand the issue in order to develop an informed strategy to address it. 

The consultant will document the drivers of cross-border FGM and CM, assess their impact on girls and women, analyze stakeholder response, and analyze the existence and enforcement of laws and policies addressing this issue as well as existing trans-border local authority coordination. The study will involve both a literature review of existing data and primary data collection.  

The study will be conducted in the border areas of the five countries: Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal. These countries are part of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM, and also form part of the ECOWAS target zones for cross-border programming.

Background : 

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women have experienced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in 30 countries across three continents. In 2020, an estimated 4.1 million girls are at risk of being cut. The West and Central Africa Region (WCAR) is home to 17 out of the 27 African countries where FGM is prevalent, including two of the three countries in the world with the highest prevalence. Today more than 40 million girls and women have undergone FGM in the region.

FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights and constitutes an extreme form of violence against girls and women. Girls and women subjected to FGM are at risk of early marriage, dropping out of school, and reduced opportunities for growth, development, and sustainable incomes. Often, they also suffer from lifelong health and mental health problems as a consequence of the procedure. In many cultures FGM is the precursor to child marriage, serving as a ritualistic rite of passage into womanhood, marking girls fit for marriage.

Every year, around 14 million adolescent and teen girls are married, in many cases forced into this arrangement by their parents. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 % of women are married before the age of 18. The West and Central Africa region alone is home to six of the countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world: Niger (76%), Central African Republic (68%), Chad (67%), Burkina Faso (52%), Mali and Guinea (51%).  While, Nigeria, the most populous country in the region, has 22 million married children (young girls) alone, accounting for 40% of all married girls in the region.

Since 2008, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been implementing Joint Programmes on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation and Ending Child Marriage. The Joint Programme on FGM which is currently being implemented in 17 countries (8 of which are in WCA: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Senegal), links community-level transformation of social norms that often drive FGM, with laws banning the practice and access to quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and child protection services for girls and women at risk of and affected by FGM. The Joint Programme on Child Marriage adopts a similar approach in four countries in the WCA Region: Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

For the past ten years, Plan International has also been implementing activities to end FGM and child marriage in the region. The plan currently has projects on FGM/C in Mali, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Nigeria, Central African Republic, and Guinea. Programs on child marriage are also being implemented in all the above countries including Niger, Ghana, Togo, and Benin. Plan International supported ECOWAS in the elaboration of a road map to end child marriage and a six months action plan to roll out the implementation of the road map has been put in place.   

In many countries, harmful practices such as FGM and child marriage have been pushed underground and across borders to avoid prosecution where it is illegal, and the laws are strictly applied. The movement of families across borders to perform FGM and child marriage to avoid prosecution remains a problem. Very limited attempts have been made to meet with stakeholders from neighboring countries and discuss how to address this issue. In many countries, the laws do not support FGM and child marriage; however, they do not criminalize or punish it either. The phenomenon of cross-border FGM however, also exists in regions where FGM is subject to prosecution on both sides of the border, or on neither side and is then largely due to cross-border ethnic and cultural ties between practicing communities.

The long history that UNFPA, UNICEF, and Plan International have to work on these issues has inspired a collaboration that will bring together the three institutions to jointly address the issue of cross-border harmful practices, an emerging trend that has only recently started receiving attention. All three organizations have successfully implemented similar programs in their respective target countries, and have the confidence of diverse stakeholders, from community leaders to large donor organizations. Joint implementation will involve pooling resources and organizational capacity to develop strategies that address the emerging issue of cross-border practices in WCA, which can then be scaled up to other regions.

Scope of work: (Description of services, activities, or outputs) :

Specific Tasks : 

  • Conduct a review of and identify gaps  in the existing literature on cross border practice of FGM and CM, in the region and the world
  • Analyze existing legislation on FGM and CM in general, and the cross-border aspects in particular in target countries.
  • Develop data collection tools to identify drivers of cross-border FGM and CM, at-risk population, scope, stakeholders, impact, legislation, ongoing and previous efforts to address the issue, and other relevant data.
  • Develop a methodology for data collection by the national consultant
  • Develop report format to synthesize data collected by national consultants into short, informative reports
  • Coordinate primary data collection at the country level by liaising with national consultants and country office focal points.
  • Conduct mapping of regions where cross-border FGM and CM is practiced
  • Develop community profiles of cross-border areas including population at risk, local context, key actors, legislation, scope, drivers, etc.
  • Generate country and region-specific data on cross border practice of FGM and CM
  • Work closely with UNPFA, UNICEF, and PLAN country offices
  • Work with national consultants to achieve the above-mentioned tasks. The international consultant will be the lead consultant and will provide oversight and direction for local consultants in the various countries responsible for data collection.
  • Prepare detailed reports on cross-border practices of FGM and CM in the five target countries.
  • Prepare a detail work plan for the consultancy period including for the national consultants

Deliverables :

  • Inception report including a time-line and methodological approach
  • A tool to capture data on cross-border FGM and CM
  • Data compiled from the five countries on FGM and CM
  • A detailed report on cross-border FGM and CM in the region, inclusive of country profiles, a literature review including the identification of research and gaps, an analysis of primary data collected to map scope and frequency of cross-border FGM and CM in different border areas, identification of drivers for the phenomenon, and a review of laws and policies in relation to FGM, CM, and its cross-border practice.
  • End of Consultancy report

Guiding questions :

The key questions to be responded to by the study are include the following. The consultant will be able to formulate other relevant question according to the context

  • What are the determinants (social, economic, demographic, geographical, etc) of FGM/C and child marriage?
  • Which are the communities and ethnicities involved FGM/C and child marriage?
  • What are the age groups most affected FGM/C and child marriage?
  • What type of FGM/C is performed? 
  • What is the proportion carried out by traditional cutters and what proportioned is medicalized?
  • What are the national legislations and policies on FGM/C and child marriage?
  • What are the elements of national legislation and policies?

Methodology : 

The international consultant will develop a methodological approach for local consultants. It will include the following;

  • Desk review to capture key information from existing studies and research reports;
  • Interview the governmental and non-governmental focal points on MGF and CM;
  • Field Interview of local actors living in or close to the borders.

Monitoring and progress control, including reporting requirements, periodicity format, and deadline :

The consultant will develop a detailed work plan at the start of the assignment that will take into account time for feedback, and for revision of materials. There will be several deadlines within the stipulated timeframe for the submission of various communications materials and messages. The consultant will submit a report at the end of the consultancy documenting activities covered and associated costs. Reports are to be submitted by January 2021.

Supervisory arrangements :

The consultant will be directly supervised by the UNFPA, UNICEF, and PLAN program Specialists at the regional level.

Delivery dates and how work will be delivered (e.g. electronic, hard copy, etc.):

The consultant will submit electronic copies of all material in either English or French.

Required expertise, qualifications, and competencies, including language requirements :

Core Compentencies :

  • Values/guiding principles;
  • Effective performance management;
  • Working in teams;
  • Communication information and ideas/knowledge sharing;
  • Self-management/emotional intelligence and conflict management/negotiating and resolving disagreements;
  • Analytical and strategic thinking/results in orientation/commitment to excellence.

Functional Competencies :

  • Innovation and development of new approaches; 
  • Technical expertise in research and evidence generation.
  • Results-based program development and management.

Qualifications and Experiences :

  • Masters degree in Public Health, Social Sciences, or another relevant degree.
  • At least 10 years of professional experience in the literature review, research, or program development in a managerial capacity.
  • Previous experience working on traditional harmful practices
  • Demonstrated experience in developing tools and strategies for research and program implementation.
  • Ability to synthesize and convey information from multiple sources
  • Excellent report writing, editing, and presentation skills
  • Previous work experience in the region and detailed knowledge of geographic context is an added advantage.
  • Previous experience with UN Agencies is an added advantage.
  • Fluency in French is required. Fluency in English is an added advantage.

How to apply :

Applicants with the required qualifications and experience stated above (Required expertise, qualifications, and competencies, including language requirements) should submit soft copies of their proposals to  no later than the 5th November 2020 at 5 pm (Dakar time).

Only those candidates who meet all qualifications and experience will be contacted for further consideration. Incomplete applications will be automatically disqualified. 

Disclaimer : 

UNFPA does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing, or another fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you have received a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names, and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web. Should you feel that you have received a fraudulent notice, letter, or offer that makes use of the name or logo of UNFPA, you may submit a report through the UNFPA fraud hotline


We are no longer accepting applications for this position.

Population : 16.7 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 36%
Girls 39%

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