Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): What You Need To Know

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): What You Need To Know

Female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting or FGM, is the practice of intentionally cutting or altering the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In most societies where FGM happens, it is seen as a cultural tradition and is deeply rooted in inequality between the sexes.

Each year the United Nations observes February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.  Together, we can stop this human rights tragedy and support victims of FGM. Here’s what you need to know and what actions you can take to help stop it:

UNICEF estimates that at least 200 million women and girls are victims of FGM.

Despite FGM being classified as a human rights violation by the World Health Organization, it still happens to thousands of vulnerable women and girls every single day.

Globally, a woman or girl is violated by FGM every ten seconds.

This means approximately 8,500 women and girls are harmed by FGM daily.

Most girls undergo FGM between infancy and the age of 15.

FGM has existed for over 2,000 years and is performed on women days before their marriages, or on babies as young as a few days old.

The procedure has no health benefits for women and girls.

FGM can cause severe pain, infertility, infection, and prolonged bleeding. It can also cause complications during childbirth and increases the risk of newborn deaths. The practice of FGM can also cause behavioral changes in women and girls and lifelong psychological damage.

Complications are common and often lead to death.

Women that undergo the procedure are twice and likely to die during childbirth.

FGM is often used as a way to control girls.

Communities practice FGM for a range of cultural reasons. Since it is such a powerful social norm, many families have their daughters cut despite the risk of death and lifelong health complications.

The practice of FGM is a universal problem, found in all corners of the world.

The practice of FGM is primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, but it’s an issue across the globe. In Egypt and Ethiopia, nearly half of the female population are survivors of FGM. More than half a million women and girls in the United States are at risk of undergoing or have undergone FGM.  (Source: United Nations)

How You Can Help

    1. Share this article on Facebook or Twitter to spread the word about the millions of women and girls at-risk of female genital mutilation.
    2. Support high-impact, grassroots nonprofit organizations on GlobalGiving that are working to end FGM, like the ones featured below.


Projects working to end FGM


No FGM in Tanzania
We support FGM survivor and activist Rhobi Samwelly and her local NGO Hope for Women and Children Tanzania in Mara. She works together with district and regional officials to protect girls from Female Genital Mutilation in Tanzania via supporting outreach work in villages and with schools, and offering safe spaces for girls refusing to be cut, particularly during cutting seasons. They also arrange community film screenings of the film featuring their work, In the Name of Your Daughter.
Leadership Training for Girls in Maasai Kenya
Girls in Maasai Kenya are at risk of child marriage and FGM. KCE, a primary girls boarding school for grades 4-8, combats these practices. Students are empowered and motivated to achieve their full potential. The leadership camp pairs KCE girls with girls from neighboring public schools. Along with health education, girls learn leadership concepts such as speaking up, and empowerment. The program also includes weekend trainings at neighboring schools for adolescent girls and boys.
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
NIGEE is a Kenyan-based non-profit organization that helps school girls who dropped out due to teen pregnancy or child marriage. About 200 of these girls have completed high school and need vocational training to join the job market, and about 300 girls in school need a facility to convene during school holidays and be tutored on sciences and educated on reproductive health. The Girls' Empowerment Center will offer these services to 500 girls and host 50 victims of sexual violence.
Rescue Maasai Girls from Female Genital Mutilation
Despite laws attempting to prevent it, Female Genital Mutilation remains a prevalent cultural practice among Maasai communities. Global Roots is helping to change this by providing positive incentives and reinforcement to communities which remain mutilation free. We do this using our Global Children's Garden food security program as foundation and then use that food security to reinforce mutilation free villages. We also partner with local organizations to sponsor girls who have fled FGM.
In Maasai community,young girls below age 10 years are subjected to horrific cultural practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, FGM/C, as rite of passage from childhood to womanhood. Thereafter, denied opportunity to go on with schooling and instead married off. The supposed women, at onset of puberty, begin to bear children and manage homes.Cherish Others has identified over 5000 girls at risk, some orphans, by making home visits, counsel and give support and educate community to stop FGM
Train 120 Health & Human Rights promoters in Kenya
HFAW will work with the 30 new graduates in health and human rights to train 120 new promoters in 4 locations, in Nyamira. The new tots will use transformative strategies based on popular education which has been highly effective in Chile (via EPES Foundation) changing the lives of poor women and will focuses on reproductive health and human rights as critical step to break the epidemic discrimination against women. HFAW has produced highly motivated women (&men) ready to scale up the methods.
Help Educate 330 Mukinyai School Orphans, Kenya
Network for Ecofarming in Africa (NECOFA) ensure that 330 Mukinyai School orphans in Molo attain quality education. The project pays for school fees and uniforms and supports foster families' farm projects to ensure nutritional security.
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
This project will teach life skills to Maasai girls and boys, offer business training and seed grants to rural Maasai women, provide mentoring and leadership support to Maasai students, and engage parents to increase involvement of the whole community in our effort to end early marriage of girls, teen pregnancy, female genital mutilation, and the spread of HIV, all significant factors preventing girls from getting an education and contributing to poverty among the Maasai.
Champion for 25 Girls in Northern Kenya
The HODI Project will provide access to education and training in tailoring skills to 25 girls and will increase the number of girls with access to basic education. Many girls drop out of school after their primary education with parents preferring boys; poverty, sexual harassment, pregnancy, beading and early marriage the main reasons. This will give them a chance to overcome poverty; illiteracy; get an education and be leaders in their schools and communities in future thro' sports engagement
Improving Adolescent Girls Access to SRHR
GPI's weekly safe space lessons provide an opportunity for hundreds of 10-18 year old Nigerian girls to become empowered with factual information on gender, life management skills, adolescent sexuality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Girls graduating from the three year program use the information gained to carry out social work interventions in rural communities on issues of early marriage, teenage pregnancies and FGM which have led to a reduction in these practices.
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