The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has called for increased collaboration among global stakeholders, ensuring improved advocacy and sustained investment to accelerate progress against female genital mutilation (FGM).
Obaseki gave the charge in commemoration of the 2024 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, marked by the United Nations and its sister agencies, with the theme, “Her Voice. Her Future.”
Obaseki, who reeled efforts by his government over the past seven years to promote the elimination of female genital mutilation and other such harmful practices against women, said his government remains committed to protecting the rights of women and girls from all forms of violence and abuse.
On the dangers of the heinous and harmful practice on the girl-child, the governor noted that girls who undergo female genital mutilation are exposed to health challenges such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding that may lead to death, infections as well as other complications in adult life.
According to him, “Amid the huge success recorded in the global fight against female genital mutilation, there is the need to accelerate progress and eradicate this scourge completely, which makes it imperative for stakeholders to increase efforts in this regard, ensuring better investment, education and awareness on the dangers and consequences of this harmful practice.”
Acknowledging the strides made in eliminating the scourge in totality, Obaseki said, “In Edo State, we take a strong stance against Female Genital Mutilation and have been working closely with all stakeholders, including traditional rulers, community organisations, and religious leaders, among others to improve public education campaigns and raise awareness against this harmful practice to safeguard the health and well-being of our women and girls while promoting their rights and dignity.
“We are implementing laws and policies that prohibit FGM and have provided penalties for those who perform the procedure. We are providing economic opportunities and alternative livelihoods for women and girls, to reduce the economic incentives for FGM, including job training and entrepreneurship programmes, and educational opportunities, among others.”
Obaseki added, “While we have trained healthcare providers to identify and respond to cases of FGM, the government is also working assiduously with its partners to ensure that women and girls who have undergone FGM have access to comprehensive healthcare services, including post-FGM care, psychological support, and access to safe birth options, among others.”
According to the United Nations, “Over the last three decades, the prevalence of FGM has declined globally. Today, a girl is one-third less likely to undergo FGM than 30 years ago. However, sustaining these achievements in the face of humanitarian crises such as disease outbreaks, climate change, armed conflict and more could cause a rollback of progress toward achieving gender equality and the elimination of FGM by 2030.
More than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation. This year, nearly 4.4 million girls will be at risk of this harmful practice. This equates to more than 12,000 cases every day.
“With seven years remaining in this decade of action, our collective actions must be centered around creating environments where girls and women can exercise their power and choice, enjoying full rights to health, education, and safety. And this is possible through investments in initiatives led by survivors of female genital mutilation who are challenging harmful gender and social norms. Their voices and actions can transform deeply rooted social and gender norms, allowing girls and women to realize their rights and potential in terms of health, education, income, and equality.”