Belgium, Germany and Sweden join forces with UNFPA and UNICEF to eliminate female genital mutilation

28 Dec 2022

A group of girls rescued from female genital mutilation and early marriage play hand-clapping games in their dormitories at Morpus primary school in Ortum, West Pokot, Kenya on November 24, 2020. Through the support of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme, the Morpus primary and boarding school has been helping young girls to escape and recover from female genital mutilation and early marriages since 2003, providing education and accommodation. © UNFPA Kenya/Luis Tato

UNITED NATIONS, New York - The governments of Belgium, Germany and Sweden have pledged new funding to the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. An additional $23.1 million dollars from the donor countries will help prevent thousands of women and girls from undergoing female genital mutilation in the years to come.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a harrowing form of gender-based violence that endangers the lives of millions of girls and women each year. In 25 countries where it is routinely practised and data are available, an estimated 68 million girls are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation between 2015 and 2030 unless concerted and accelerated action is taken. In many countries female genital mutilation is now outlawed, yet so deeply entrenched in social norms that it is still performed, mostly underground. At times, the practice is even perpetrated and supported by friends and family.

Since 2008, with the support of partners and donors, UNFPA and UNICEF have been working to end female genital mutilation through a joint programme implemented across 17 countries. Over the years, the initiative has scaled up gender-responsive and social approaches, catalyzing  national action and legislative frameworks to stop this harmful practice.

In the last decade, most countries supported by the joint programme have implemented a law banning female genital mutilation. As of 2021, the programme galvanized around 45  million community members to publicly denounce the practice, and helped more than 6 million girls and women to access comprehensive prevention and response services. The joint programme also enabled the participation of more than 50 million people in education and social mobilization activities promoting the elimination of female genital mutilation.

Although the global community recognizes the centrality of ending FGM to achieve gender equality, programmes to do so are not only underfunded, but their financing has been declining. According to UNFPA’s analysis, reaching high-coverage targets for 31 countries by 2030 would require an investment of $2.4 billion.

The joint programme has not been immune to the funding shortage, with only $49.5 million of its $334.5 million budget funded, resulting in a funding gap of $285.0 million. The support of new partners, such as Belgium ($3.1 million) and Germany ($2 million), as well as continuous long-term commitment by Sweden (with an additional $18 million), is essential for the joint programme to continue its critical work, by addressing the root causes of gender inequality and reshaping the power imbalances that underpin female genital mutilation, as well as creating more sustainable solutions to address it.

The new contributions from Belgium, Germany and Sweden are part of a global movement to eliminate female genital mutilation, supporting the vision to create a world where every girl and woman can claim her bodily autonomy and where attitudes, gender norms and power relations are transformed to end the practice once and for all.

The Joint Programme is generously funded by the Governments of Austria, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain (through AECID), Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union.

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