International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Ending Female Genital Mutilation by 2030

Did You Know?

  • UNFPA estimates there may be as many as 2 million cases of female genital mutilation by 2030 that would have otherwise been averted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2021 alone, there are 4.16 million girls around the world, who are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation.
  • According to a UNFPA (pre-COVID-19) study, the cost of preventing female genital mutilation is $95 per girl today.
  • 30 countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent are experiencing high population growth, with at least 30 per cent of girls undergoing female population under the age of 15.
  • Around 1 in 4 girls and women, or 52 million worldwide, experienced female genital mutilation, performed by health personnel pointing to an alarming trend in the medicalization of female genital mutilation.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights, the health and the integrity of girls and women.

Girls who undergo female genital mutilation face short-term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.

Although primarily concentrated in 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, female genital mutilation is a universal problem and is also practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America. Female genital mutilation continues to persist amongst immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively and disproportionately affected girls and women, resulting in a shadow pandemic disrupting SDG target 5.3 on the elimination of all harmful practices including, female genital mutilation. UNFPA estimates additional 2 million girls projected to be at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation by 2030. In response to this disruption, the United Nations, through its UNFPA-UNICEF joint program, has been adapting interventions that ensure the integration of female genital mutilation in humanitarian and post-crisis response. The Joint Program currently focuses on 17 countries in Africa and the Middle East and also supports regional and global initiatives.

To promote the elimination of female genital mutilation, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights, gender equality, sexual education and attention to the needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.

Although the practice has been around for more than a thousand years, there are reasons to think that female genital mutilation could end in a single generation. That is why the United Nations strives for its full eradication by 2030, following the spirit of Sustainable Development Goal 5.

Over the years, this partnership has seen significant achievements. For instance, more than 2.8 million people participated in public declarations of FGM elimination, and the number of communities establishing surveillance structures to track girls doubled and protected 213,774 girls from undergoing the practice.