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


End Female Genital Mutilation in 9 schools, Kenya
The purpose of this project is to empower girls in Kenya to refuse to be subjected to the practice of FGM. FGM is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It is often performed without anesthesia or sufficient antiseptic conditions, with girls as young as five years old. An estimated 150 million women have undergone FGM - with 2 to 3 million new victims annually. HFAW will bring qualified personnel to 9 of the 63 schools to educate girls and their parents about FGM.
Protect Girls from FGM in Tanzania
This program with FGM survivor and activist Rhobi Samwelly protects and empowers girls at risk of gender-based violence, including child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). Her organization Hope for Girls and Women runs safe houses to protect girls at risk, maps uncharted regions of Tanzania for rescue teams, initiates girls into womanhood without FGM, and educates cutters and community leaders around the impacts of gender-based violence.
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
Rescue Maasai Girls from Female Genital Mutilation
Global Roots is dedicated to making a significant impact by addressing the plight of young Maasai girls in Kenya who are trapped in the cycle of FGM. We provide these girls with shelter, education, and support, empowering them to break free from fear and reclaim their rights. By offering a safe haven and educational opportunities, we equip them with the tools they need to build a brighter future. Our efforts aim to disrupt the cycle of suffering and create lasting in the lives of these girls.
Shoot to Score for 500 Children in Northern Kenya
The project of Shoot To score in Marsabit, Kenya will be providing a safe space for 500 children to play and experience their childhood. They will learn life skills on tolerance; fair play, peaceful acts on and off the field imparted through Shoot to Score not to Kill Intervention. It will also help girls and women break the silence on FGM, Child Marriage & beading through football while providing safe space with a leadership awards support for education of the survivors. Shoot2Score
Crowdsourced Mapping to Prevent FGM in Tanzania
This is a volunteer run project mapping rural Tanzania into Openstreetmap - an open source map available to everyone for navigation, planning, and monitoring of services. We are adding schools, clinics, villages, road and water points using a combination of satellite images, open government data and training locals on the ground with mobile apps. We prioritise areas where girls are at risk of FGM so that advocacy staff know where the villages are so can reach the girls at risk quickly.
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.
Leadership Training for Girls in Rural Kenya
In rural Kenya, 66% of girls continue to undergo female genital mutilation at puberty, after which they enter an arranged marriage and drop out of school. Information about their rights and health is unavailable or distorted, and these topics are considered taboo. Kakenya's Dream is educating and empowering girls to become their own advocates for their rights and health. During a six month afterschool program, girls learn life skills and receive vital health, rights, and sexual education.
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.
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
In & around JWHS, a children's home in Kenya, we: *Provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, & loving support for victims of HIV/AIDS, neglected, & abandoned children *Provide safety from FGM/illegal practices violating human rights of pastoralist girls *Provide school uniforms, shoes, fees, tuition, textbooks, school supplies, & school lunches to enable low-income children to attend school *Provide continuing, formal, and vocational education to empower vulnerable children
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