International Conference to Boost Efforts to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

Photo: Sheila Mckinnon
  • 18 October 2013

The Government of Italy, UNFPA and UNICEF are organizing an International Conference on Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) in Rome from 21-25 October, 2013.

The conference, held in the context of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Accelerating Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, aims to consolidate global political commitment, plan specific strategies, and further galvanize national action to build a broad-based movement to end FGM/C and related discriminatory practices in the next generation. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 67/146 on intensifying global efforts for the elimination FGM/C, unanimously adopted in December 2012, will serve as the structural framework for the International Conference.

The conference will document the achievements of countries and adopt a common revised strategy and framework for action. Participants are also expected to deliver a statement outlining an agenda for action and reaffirming commitments by national, regional, international, and UN representatives to eliminate FGM/C.

FGM/C refers to several different harmful practices involving the cutting of the female genitals that persist in several countries today, despite its often dire consequences – including death, disability, sexual dysfunction and complications during childbirth – and nearly a century of efforts to end it.

New data by UNFPA reveal that if current trends continue, 86 million girls aged 15-19 are likely to undergo FGM/C by the year 2030. It also shows that more than 125 million girls and women who are alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where the practice of FGM/C is concentrated.

UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Accelerating Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

Since 2008, UNFPA, in partnership with UNICEF, has been at the forefront of accelerating the abandonment of this harmful practice across Africa through the Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Accelerating Change in 15 countries in West, East and North Africa.

The Joint Programme engages with governments and different sectors of society – from religious leaders and health workers to girls at risk and legislators – through integrated and culturally-sensitive approaches, to discuss alternative ways of doing the best for their daughters without having them cut.

These new strategies are having an impact: a recent analysis shows that the Joint Programme has made significant contributions in strengthening the legal and policy frameworks necessary for the elimination of FGM/C, as well as accelerating changes in social and cultural norms towards its abandonment at national, sub-national and community levels. It has also contributed to strengthening the momentum for change at the global level.

But protecting women and girls against harmful practices remains a challenge. The results of an ongoing ICPD Beyond 2014 global review reveal that only 46.2 per cent of countries have promulgated and enforced laws protecting girls against harmful practices, including FGM/C – a percentage as high as 66 per cent in Africa. Discrimination against women and girls, including harmful traditional practices, is a violation of women's fundamental human rights and remains the most pervasive and persistent form of gender inequality.

  • Further information about the International Conference on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, including the agenda, concept note and related materials, is available here.

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