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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) joins the global community in observing February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, an internationally recognized day to foster awareness of the devastating effects of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) and to renew the call for the abandonment of this harmful traditional practice.
Every year, more than 3 million girls in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and diaspora communities in the West are at risk of FGM/C. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with the consequences of this dangerous practice. The procedure, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, is largely performed on girls from infancy to the age 15 .
FGM/C is practiced across cultures and religions, though no religion mandates the procedure. It is practiced essentially in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in Indonesia, Malaysia and northern Iraq, and new evidence is showing prevalence in other Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. The practice also can be found in Europe, the United States, Australia and other countries where immigrants bring their cultural traditions with them.
USAID has supported FGM/C abandonment efforts since the early 1990s, considering FGM/C not only a public health issue, but also a violation of a woman’s right to bodily integrity. In September 2000, the Agency officially incorporated abandonment of FGM/C into its development agenda, issuing an official policy [PDF, 19KB] and strategy on FGM/C. Over the years, the Agency has found, through programs and research, that the process of positive social transformation can occur when programs and policies focus on enabling communities to make their own collective choice to abandon FGM/C. These efforts are enhanced by educational campaigns and policy change.
The U.S. government supports the women and men around the world who denounce this egregious practice and act to abolish it. While we have made tremendous progress over the past decade, work still lies ahead. We must all work together – men, women, grandfathers, grandmothers, community and religious leaders, government, civil society and multilateral organizations – to overturn deeply entrenched social norms that are not only harmful to women and girls, but also to our communities and societies.
Join the Conversation
Use the hashtag #EndFGM and your voice to call for the abandonment of this harmful traditional practice.
— USAID Global Health (@USAIDGH) February 5, 2014
Additional Links and Resources
- USAID IMPACTblog Post by Ellen Starbird, Director of the Office of Population and Reproductive Health: Why support efforts to abandon Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting?
- USAID IMPACTblog Post by Katie Taylor, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health: Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
- Remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry on International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
- Issue Brief: The USG Working Together to Support the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting [PDF, 704KB]
- Ending FGM/C, Lessons from a Decade of Progress
- Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Data and Trends: Update 2014
- The Donors Working Group on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
- DHS Report: Female Genital Cutting: The Interpretation of Recent DHS Data [PDF, 1.4MB]
- UN Resolution: Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation [PDF, 53KB]
Last updated: January 22, 2015