The Path to a Future Free from Female Genital Mutilation: A Global Call to Action for Equality and Rights

By Seliphar Machoni

In the global quest for gender equality and human rights, societies worldwide are intensifying efforts to eradicate the deeply entrenched practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Recognized as a pervasive violation of the rights and well-being of women and girls, FGM demands urgent attention and concerted action.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a deeply rooted traditional practice involving the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or inflicting non-medical harm on female genital organs.

This harmful practice infringes upon fundamental human rights, including the right to health, security, physical integrity, freedom from torture, and even the right to life, especially when it results in death, as asserted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO reports that over 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM, and an estimated 3 million girls are at risk annually.

As part of Sustainable Development Goal 5.3 (SDG 5.3), the global community has committed to ending FGM by 2030. However, current trends indicate a concerning off-track scenario, with less than a decade remaining.

Alarming statistics from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2018 project that if current population trends persist, at least 68 million more girls worldwide will face FGM by 2030.

Recognized worldwide as an extreme form of gender discrimination and a violation of human rights, FGM poses immediate and long-term risks to women’s physical, mental, and sexual health. Urgent, collective, and well-funded action, coupled with innovative community awareness approaches, is imperative to address this global challenge.

Despite growing evidence, public and government awareness of the global nature of FGM remains low.

With seven years remaining to achieve the global target, it is crucial to enhance efforts to amplify awareness and garner support for the fight against FGM.

In Kenya, the Anti-FGM board is urging stakeholders, including men’s activists, community organizations, government institutions, local leaders, and religious institutions, to unite against FGM.

Despite progress, as indicated by the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2022, which notes a decline in prevalence from 38% in 2003 to 15% in 2022, one in four women in Kenya has still undergone FGM.

Activists and groups face challenges, including insufficient data, support, and funding. Efforts in Kenya have shown progress, with a decline from 38% in 2003 to 15% in 2022, but achieving zero FGM cases by 2030 requires sustained commitment, increased investment, and global support.

Let us join hands in amplifying the fight against FGM, working towards a future where the rights and well-being of women and girls are universally protected.

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