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Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a harmful practice that involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non- medical reasons. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the rights of women and girls, and eliminating the practice is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 5.3 calls for the total elimination of harmful practices including FGM. The global target of eliminating FGM by 2030 will be achieved only if efforts to address the problem are intensified, especially across borders.

This regional action plan provides a broad framework for the regional level to assist governments in accelerating the implementation of existing international, regional and national commitments on ending FGM. Formulating the plan has provided an opportunity for the region to identify broad priorities, initiate strategic actions and determine responsibilities among different actors. It also ensures that anti-FGM campaign activities are seen not as standalone efforts but rather as an integral part of the African Union’s discussions, in line with the African Union initiative on eliminating FGM (Saleema Initiative).

The development of the plan has also been a substantive step towards the multisectoral approach of bringing together different actors in the campaign to protect girls and women from FGM at the regional level, as well as creating a supporting mechanism for regional and national efforts to end FGM. The plan will be used to guide member states on strategies and actions to take in preventing and addressing/responding to cross-border FGM.