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“Synergy of action by Governments, International Community and Civil Society to accelerate the achievement of the Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation"

Globally there are nearly 140 million girls and women who have to endure the negative physical and psychological consequences of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). In the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated, more than 125 million girls and women have been cut.

FGM/C is a harmful practice entrenched in socio-cultural traditions and aside from its devastating psychological and physical implications. FGM/C violates the basic rights of women and girls and compromises their health. It poses an increased risk for infection and severe bleeding that can threaten the life of the girl. Additionally, it contributes to maternal mortality as it may lead to prolonged and obstructed child birth particularly in areas with limited access to maternal health care.

UNFPA, and UN WOMEN regional offices for the Arab Region join forces to call for an end to FGM/C in the region:

First and foremost we commend the tremendous work that is being done every day by governments in passing legislations banning and criminalizing the harmful practice as well as the tireless efforts of local communities. We praise the efforts of community leaders sincerely advocating for change and those families who are challenging the socio-cultural status-quo and creating role-models for FGM/C-free households and communities.

We recognize that FGM/C cannot be justified under an umbrella of protecting culture and social norms as it violates the basic human rights of women and girls to enjoy a healthy life. According to a recent report by UNICEF social acceptance is the most frequently cited reason for supporting the continuation of the practice.

Therefore, UN agencies will continue to actively engage key influential community and religious leaders to advocate for the elimination of FGM/C, and to constructively empower families to ban the practice. In the communities where girls and women continue to undergo FGM/C we will provide the necessary support to stop this practice and ensure access to medical and psychological care and support services for those who have already undergone the procedure.

As members of the UN system, we pledge to continue our efforts in working with governmental/non-governmental bodies, civil society, community counterparts and international partners towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, including the right to their physical, reproductive and psychological health. Furthermore, we will work to ensure that policies and legislations are effectively implemented to put an end of FGM/C.

UNFPA projects that 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030, if current trends continue. With those disturbing projections in mind, UN WOMEN and UNFPA call upon everyone to remember that every girl and woman regardless of where she lives, or her economic and social circumstances, has the right to fulfill her human potential, free from coercion, harm or violence. The sustainable, equitable, inclusive future we all want depends on the actions we take today to ensure the dignity, health and well-being of every girl and woman.