Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a reproductive health and human rights concern. It has devastating short- and long-term consequences for the lives of women and girls. The practice touches on a range of issues, including reproductive health and rights, gender equality and women's empowerment as well as adolescent reproductive health.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a reproductive health and human rights concern. It has devastating short- and long-term consequences for the lives of women and girls. The practice touches on a range of issues, including reproductive health and rights, gender equality and women's empowerment as well as adolescent reproductive health.

FGM involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs, and not for medical purposes.It is typically performed on girls under 15 years old, but sometimes in the first weeks of life and occasionally on adult women.

Worldwide, between 100 million and 140 million women have been cut, and 3 million more are at risk each year. Women are subjected to female genital mutilation in 28 countries in Africa – this includes Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East and Southern Africa.

The 2011 annual report for the campaign to end FGM shows that the pace of abandonment of the harmful practice is speeding up. This is because of increased ownership, dynamism and initiative on the part of national governments and implementing partners. The campaign has also shown an influence on maternal and child health, education and child marriage, and the general wellbeing of women and girls.

UNFPA takes a holistic approach to its FGM abandonment programmes, which include:

  • National capacity building
  • Working at the community level
  • Legal and policy reform

In conjunction with UNICEF, the Fund leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM, the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Accelerating the Abandonment of FGM/C, supporting regional and global initiatives. It focuses on 17 countries in Africa and the Arab States.