The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), observed on 6 February, is a crucial moment for communities worldwide to unite against a practice that infringes on the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls. This day serves as a platform to amplify the voices advocating for the end of FGM and to celebrate the strides made towards its eradication while recognizing the long journey ahead in fully abolishing this harmful practice.
Initiated by the United Nations 1, the day emphasizes the global commitment to creating a future free from FGM. Highlighting the essential roles of survivors and women-led organizations, it stresses the importance of grassroots movements in leading the charge against FGM. These groups bring invaluable insights and strategies for overcoming cultural and social barriers, making their involvement key to accelerating global efforts towards ending this practice.
History of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
The battle against female genital mutilation gained a formal platform for advocacy and awareness with the establishment of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. Recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, FGM encompasses all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It’s a practice steeped in tradition but has devastating effects on the health and autonomy of millions of girls and women worldwide.
Efforts to combat FGM have been bolstered by the United Nations through initiatives like the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme, which since 2008, has been at the forefront of the largest global program aimed at accelerating the elimination of female genital mutilation. This partnership has focused on countries in Africa and the Middle East but also supports global initiatives, highlighting the universal nature of this issue. Through collaboration with grassroots organizations and survivor-led movements, significant strides have been made in changing policies, laws, and social norms that perpetuate FGM.
Why is This Day Important?
The observance of this day is crucial for several reasons, each highlighting a different aspect of the fight against FGM.
- Human Rights Violation: FGM is internationally recognized as a breach of the human rights of girls and women. It denies them the right to health, security, and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
- Health Risks: The practice poses immediate and long-term health risks, including severe pain, hemorrhage, sepsis, urinary issues, and complications in childbirth, significantly increasing the risk of newborn deaths.
- Psychological Impact: Beyond the physical harm, FGM has significant psychological implications, leading to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, affecting women’s mental health and well-being.
- Barrier to Education: Girls subjected to FGM are often withdrawn from school, limiting their educational opportunities and hindering their potential for personal and economic growth.
- Economic Costs: The economic impact of treating health complications arising from FGM places a considerable burden on healthcare systems, diverting resources from other critical areas.
- Social Inequities: FGM perpetuates gender inequality, reinforcing discriminatory beliefs about the role and status of women and girls in society.
- Global Concern: While concentrated in specific regions, FGM is a global issue, affecting women and girls in communities all over the world, including in immigrant populations in Western countries.
How to Observe International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM
Observing this day can take many forms, each contributing to the broader goal of ending FGM.
- Educate Yourself and Others: Learning about FGM, its impacts, and the efforts to combat it is a crucial first step. Sharing this knowledge can help dispel myths and misinformation surrounding the practice.
- Support Survivor-Led Initiatives: Donating to or volunteering for organizations that are led by survivors of FGM can amplify their efforts and provide vital resources for their advocacy and support services.
- Engage in Dialogue: Starting conversations about FGM in your community can raise awareness and challenge the social and cultural norms that sustain it.
- Advocate for Policy Change: Lobbying local and national government officials to enact and enforce laws banning FGM can lead to significant legal reforms.
- Promote Education: Supporting access to education for girls can empower them with knowledge and opportunities, making them less vulnerable to harmful practices like FGM.
- Celebrate Progress: Recognizing and celebrating the achievements made in the fight against FGM can inspire continued efforts and hope for future successes.
- Use Social Media: Utilizing social media platforms to share stories, facts, and support campaigns against FGM can help spread the message to a wider audience.
What is female genital mutilation?
FGM includes any procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It’s recognized globally as a violation of the rights of girls and women.
Why is FGM practiced?
FGM is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women’s sexuality, and notions about purity, modesty, and beauty. It’s deeply entrenched in some cultures and traditions.
How can we end FGM?
Ending FGM requires a multifaceted approach, including education, community engagement, legal action, and support for survivors. It involves changing cultural norms and ensuring girls and women have access to rights and opportunities.
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation Dates Table
Also on this day
Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss a holiday again!