While living in a world free of violence is a right to all, more than 200 million women and girls across the world have been forced to undergo the painful practice of Female Genital Mutilation.
Female Genital Mutilation is not only a practice rooted in gender inequality, but is also a practice that limits girls and women from realising their rights and potential in health, education and income.
In 2019, world leaders gathered at the International Conference for Population and Development in Nairobi, Kenya, to make bold commitments to transform the world by ending all maternal deaths, unmet need for family planning and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030. Six out of ten commitments made were to address gender-based violence and harmful practices, including the elimination of female genital mutilation.
Yet in 2020, 4.1 million girls remain at risk of being cut.
In Iraq, more specifically in the Kurdistan Region, UNFPA estimates that 10 per cent of girls aged under 14 could have been cut in 2018, the average age of cutting being five years old. In addition to being unnecessary and painful, this harmful practice has no health benefits for girls whatsoever. In fact, 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 and mental health.
With only a decade remaining for achieving SDG Target 5.3, which calls for the elimination of harmful practices including female genital mutilation by 2030, we need to galvanize the global movement to accelerate efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation.
Today, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, we reiterate our call to the relevant authorities in Iraq, especially the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, to work together to end FGM through the implementation of the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Communication for Behavioural Impact (COMBI) plan: Ending female genital mutilation means empowering women and girls to be healthy, stay in school, make choices and contribute to the economy, as committed by the Government of Iraq at the Nairobi Summit.
Dr Oluremi Sogunro, Representative, UNFPA Iraq Dina Zorba, Representative, UN Women Iraq
For more information, please contact:
Salwa Moussa, UNFPA Iraq, Communications Specialist, email@example.com Samir Barhoum, UN Women Iraq, Communication Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org