Empowering Girls and Women to Lead Change Annual Report 2019

UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change

Publication Date: August 2020

Author: UNFPA, UNICEF

As the largest global programme addressing female genital mutilation, the UNFPA–UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change targets the most vulnerable and marginalized girls and women, who face multiple and intersecting factors that increase their risk of undergoing this harmful practice. 

The 2019 Annual Report shows the many ways that the Joint Programme is empowering girls and women to lead change. Creating an enabling environment through policies and legislation, providing access to an essential package of services, and shifting social and gender norms through community-driven efforts are critical in accelerating the elimination of female genital mutilation. But equally as important is empowering girls and women as agents of change.  

Efforts to increase accountability and strengthen high-level political will resulted in the African Union launching the Continental Initiative to End Female Genital Mutilation, governments in East Africa adopting a Statement and Action Plan to address cross-border cutting, and the governments of Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya announcing bold initiatives to meet their commitment to SDG target 5.3 on the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030.

 In 2019, results in the 16 countries covered by the Joint Programme included:

  • More than 2.8 million people participated in public declarations of female genital mutilation abandonment in 3,362 communities, marking a 10 percent increase in the number of such communities compared to 2018.
  • The number of communities establishing surveillance structures to track girls at risk of female genital mutilation following public declarations of abandonment doubled compared to the previous year.
  • Since 2017, there has been a 50 percent rise in the number of communities building girls’ capabilities and assets so they know and can claim their rights.
  • Three times as many networks of men and boys were established compared to 2018, enabling men and boys to challenge discriminatory gender norms.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNFPA estimates an additional 2 million girls to be at risk of female genital mutilation, which threatens to disrupt SDG target 5.3. However, the Joint Programme will continue to work in partnership with governments, civil society, women’s and youth groups, religious and traditional leaders, and communities to promote and protect girls’ and women’s rights including the right to health and bodily autonomy, safety and security, and freedom from discrimination and violence.

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According to estimates by UNFPA, the COVID-19 pandemic may result in two million cases of female genital mutilation that would otherwise have been averted or a one third reduction in progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 5.3, the elimination of female genital
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This fact sheet aims to support United Nations Member States and all stakeholders to tailor and target their advocacy efforts within the Universal Periodic Review process towards eliminating female genital mutilation (FGM).

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