The Country Representative, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Ms Ulla Mueller, on Saturday, February 6, 2021, said over 200 million girls and women had experienced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) globally.
She made this known in a statement issued by Mrs Kori Habib, the UNFPA Media Associate in Abuja, in commemoration of the World Zero Tolerance Day for FGM.
The day is annually marked on Feb. 6 around the globe to raise awareness on the ills of the practice and challenges faced by survivors, with a view to ending it.
The world observance day has “No Time for Global Inaction: Unite, Fund and Act to End Female Genital Mutilation” as its theme for 2021.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and it has four types.
Type 1 is the partial or total removal of the glans clitoris (the external and visible part of the clitoris, which is a sensitive part of the female genitals) and or the prepuce/ clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
Type 2 is the partial or total removal of the glans clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva) with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).
Type 3, also known as infibulation, is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal, where the seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora.
Type 4 includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scrapping and cauterising the genital.
The UNFPA Nigeria boss expressed concern over the likelihood of an increase in the practice in future if stakeholders did not act fast to stem the trend.
She said: “More than 200 million girls and women have experienced Female Genital Mutilation and at least four million girls are at risk of undergoing the practice each year.
“Sadly, Nigeria alone contributes 10 per cent of this global burden.”
The country representative, who blamed a setback in the progress made in the fight against FGM on COVID-19, said two million additional cases of FGM were likely to occur over the next decade due to the pandemic.
She added that “COVID-19 is threatening to reverse the progress made toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 — gender equality, and specifically target 5.3, the elimination of FGM.
“In spite of the progress noted in Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) with Nigeria’s growing population, progress will need to be at least 10 times faster to meet the global target of elimination by 2030.”
Mueller, who reiterated the imperatives of ending the practice, said it was realisable through empowerment of women and girls.
According to her, education is paramount in empowering woman and girls to oppose the continuation of the practice.
She described FGM as violation of human right which must end, with direct involvement of traditional rulers, government and relevant stakeholders.
The UN official, who expressed the commitment of UNFPA in eliminating Female Genital Mutilation, urged Federal Government to make financial commitment through annual budgetary allocation.
She noted that “globally, progress will require some $2.4 billion over the next decade which breaks down to less than $100 per girl.
“Nigeria must join the global commitment efforts and ensure budget lines for Female Genital Mutilation and other forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the annual budget,” she said.
She also appealed for global support to strengthen the change through gender transformative approaches that tackle the structure, policies and harmful gender norms that perpetuate the practice.
Feb. 6 of every year is set aside by the UN to commemorate World’s Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
By Ikenna Osuoha