Today, UNFPA and UNICEF call for a sustainable partnership and engagement with men and boys of Ethiopia to enforce the actions against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and transform the deeply rooted social and gender norm, underpinning the practice, and allowing girls and women to fully realize their rights and potential. The call was made in observance of the International Day of Zero Tolerance against FGM under the theme, “partnering with men and boys to transform social and gender norms to end female genital mutilation”.
Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in the last decade in the reduction of FGM prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49 from 74 per cent in 2005 to 65 per cent in 2016. However, Ethiopia is still home to 25 million circumcised women and girls. This accounts for the largest absolute number in Eastern and Southern Africa.
“I would like to congratulate the Ethiopian Government for the progress made so far and for their commitment to ending FGM,” said Dr. Aboubacar Kampo, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia. “Girls are subjected to FGM without a choice, and it is a clear violation of their protection rights. We must collectively redouble our efforts to ending this harmful practice including scaling up our engagement with men and boys to change attitudes so that the next generation of girls can live healthier lives.”
In Ethiopia, the most common rationale for the practice of FGM on girls and women is meeting societal expectations including traditions, culture, and norms exerting control over women’s sexuality, and preserving women’s virginity until marriage and family honour. This reasoning is claims founded on false beliefs and culture and is passed on from one generation to another over time until they are believed to be true. Partnering and engaging men and boys are critical steps in communicating the facts about FGM and its inherent risks.
“Men and boys are key players in realizing UNFPA’s transformative result on ending gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including FGM. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the start of our operations in Ethiopia, we recommit to strengthen our partnership with the Ethiopian Government and other partners to eliminate this practice which is undermining the rights of women and girls to bodily autonomy,” said Suzanne Mandong, UNFPA Representative a.i.
The National Costed Roadmap to End Child Marriage and FGM by 2025, has an objective of sparing an estimated 3.6 million girls who are at risk of undergoing FGM. This National Roadmap has put the importance of working with men and boys as one of the major strategies.
Ethiopia, as one of the joint programme implementation countries, has been making progress in attitude change towards FGM with 86.7 per cent of boys and men, and 79.3 per cent of girls and women aged 15-49 believing that FGM should not continue as a practice.
In 2022, UNFPA and UNICEF alone have reached around 207,700 in and out of school adolescent girls through transformative life skills training including sexual and reproductive health education, to advocate norm change in their communities. In addition, the joint programme has partnered with around 28,000 men and boys at a community level to promote positive masculinity, and equitable gender norms and advocate for the elimination of FGM practice. On the other hand, Ethiopia needs to accelerate the effort 8 times faster to achieve the SDG 5.3 target to eliminate FGM by 2030.
UNFPA and UNICEF call for the implementation of the National Roadmap to protect women and girls in Ethiopia. Finally, stronger collaboration between men and boys is critical to protect girls and women from all harmful practices, including FGM, and enable them to reach their full potential in health, education, and income.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).