Sunday, 6 February marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation (FGM). This year's theme is "Accelerating Investment to End FGM" - calling for support for programs to provide services and response for those affected and those at risk; in developing and enforcing laws, and fortifying institutional capacity to eliminate the practice. Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons
Where poverty is acute, families may believe that marriage will secure their future. Giving a daughter in marriage can allow parents with scarce resources and alternatives to reduce family expenses by ensuring they have one less person to feed, clothe, and educate. Parents may also believe that marrying their daughter will provide her with security that they cannot provide. In communities where a dowry or "bride price" is paid, it is often welcome income for poor families.
More comprehensive actions are being taken. Multilateral, bilateral, and national interventions have reduced the number of girls married by providing sexual and reproductive health education, changing laws and policies, advancing girls' education, creating economic opportunities, and engaging communities to change social norms.
Experience and research consistently show that improving the lives of girls also lifts the condition of their families and their communities. Quite simply, investing in girls is the key to breaking the cycle of global poverty. Girls can change the world. But they can't do it without support.