Today, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reaffirms our commitment to ending this human rights abuse and the gender inequalities that contribute to its prevalence around the world.
At least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). It has devastating effects on women’s and girls’ bodily integrity and is a core public health issue leading to a range of physical, and mental health consequences that reverberate across families, communities, and generations.
While this harmful form of gender-based violence is still prevalent, FGM/C has become less common and opposition to it continues to grow around the world. Attitudes have shifted significantly in high-prevalence countries: for example, the percentage of women and girls between the ages of 15-49 who do not support the practice has doubled in the past two decades. USAID is actively supporting efforts to bring an end to this human rights abuse. We are working with our partners to identify specific geographic areas where FGM/C is prevalent, alongside child, early, and forced marriage and unions, in order to pinpoint more effective programming and local solutions. We are also working to build momentum among leaders from around the world for innovative financing that supports FGM/C programming to spark long-term impact and scalable solutions, including through a FGM/C Donor Working Group that USAID and the State Department co-hosted with the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM in December 2021. This year, the United States will release an update to the 2016 U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to GBV Globally, which will drive a comprehensive, actionable, and whole-government response to GBV around the world.
While progress over the last two decades is encouraging, there is still much to do. FGM/C is deeply entrenched in social norms, and we must work tirelessly to support local efforts that encourage behavior change from the ground up. Together, we can end the harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting so that women and girls in communities around the world are no longer subjected to it or to the physical and mental suffering it can cause.