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The year 2020 marked the launch of the Decade of Action, a global call for accelerating sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges -- inequality, poverty, and, discrimination -- to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In 2019, the Nairobi Summit International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) celebrated advances in sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), well-being, and gender equality, 25 years after the Programme of Action was launched in Cairo.
This was followed by the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 2020, the most visionary agenda for girls’ and women’s rights and empowerment. But the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, disruptions in services, and rising household monetary poverty have increased girls’ risk of FGM, impeding progress towards meeting SDG 5.3, while also making its achievement even more urgent and necessary. UNFPA anticipates a one-third reduction towards achieving the elimination of FGM by 2030. From the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, girls and women have been at the center of the humanitarian response of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change (Joint Programme). Research shows that when girls and women are involved in prevention and crisis response, it leads to better humanitarian outcomes. By empowering and protecting girls and women, adapting interventions to ensure continuity of services, while pivoting to prevent and mitigate the risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and FGM, the Joint Programme has made considerable progress in 2020 despite facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. This has been achieved in partnership with governments, civil society, women and youth-led groups, community leaders, advocates and activists, among other key stakeholders of the Joint Programme.
Despite the challenges experienced globally in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint Programme recorded achievements in several areas. These include:
79,863,144 PEOPLE WERE ENGAGED THROUGH DIGITAL APPROACHES AND CAMPAIGNS PROMOTING THE ELIMINATION OF FGM
120,605 GIRLS WERE SAVED FROM UNDERGOING THE HARMFUL PRACTICE
2,156 COMMUNITIES INVOLVING 2,220,937 PEOPLE MADE PUBLIC DECLARATIONS TO ABANDON FGM
1,792 COMMUNITIES ESTABLISHED SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS THAT CONTINUE TO PROTECT GIRLS FROM UNDERGOING THE HARMFUL PRACTICE
As the pandemic continues to unfold, the Joint Programme and its partners will continue to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on progress towards SDG 5.3, while boosting transformative recovery from the pandemic that reduces the risk of future crises and re-launches the Decade of Action.