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  • Writer's pictureSharon Eseoghene Ogbuehi

#HerVoiceMatters: International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Updated: Feb 9

Imagine a world where every female child is free from the threat of Female Genital Mutilation. Close your eyes for a moment and picture the pain and suffering endured by millions of girls around the world due to the horrors of this inhumane practice. Then, we will finally understand how crucial it is for everyone to join hands together and put an end to this barbaric and degrading act against girls and women.

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female Genital Mutilation is the unconventional practice of cutting off the external parts of a female's genitals, completely or partially for non-medical reasons and usually on the basis of cultural beliefs.

It has been reported that this practice is found in some countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within their respective diasporas, including Indonesia, Iraq, Yemen, and 27 countries in Africa. According to UNICEF, at least 200 million girls and women, in over 30 countries have been subjected to one or more types of FGM.

International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM

International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM was created to bring an end to the female genital mutilation, and spread awareness around the world on the dangers of this harmful traditional practice and how it affects the health and body of women and female children.

A United Nations sponsored annual awareness day which takes place on the 6th of February, the international day was first introduced in 2012 in a bid to eradicate female genital mutilation.

The primary objective of this day was to protect and uphold the rights of every woman so as to protect them from female genital mutilation, provide health care services for survivors of FGM, suffering from psychological traumas, severe physical injury, chronic infections, or even difficulty in childbirth.

It must be stated that this annual event holds a great significance throughout the continent and to all of mankind. Female Genital Mutilation is unarguably a heinous practice and against humanity and the laws of nature.

This day signifies hope for women and young girls all over the world that we will protect them and put an end to this detrimental practice. It promotes education advocacy, and serves as a global platform for individuals, various governments and non profit organizations to fight against the violation of the human rights of women and girls. By celebrating this day, we send a strong message that FGM has no place in the society.

A Brief History and Background of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation is an ancient practice that was integrated into countries by means of interaction with the religious beliefs, social norms and cultural beliefs of other countries. The actual country where it originated from remains unknown but scholarly sources speculate that it originated and was first practiced in Ancient Egypt (Present day Egypt and Sudan). Others claim it originated from Rome, as a means to control female slaves and stop them from getting pregnant and having intimate relations.

Female Genital Mutilation was and is a cruel method for exercising superiority over women. It was a way for some men and the society to express their animosity towards women, control, demean and degrade them in the guise of conforming to societal or religious obligations. FGM is deeply rooted in gender inequality and the discrimination of women and girls. 

Although its effects are dire on survivor, sadly, FGM is still prevalent in some of these countries. Education is not easily acquired, so most people are ignorant to the dangers of this practice.

Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The consequences of mutilating a female's genitals are non exhaustive and have a long lasting effect on the victims, and they are as follows;

  • Constant pain around the genitals and the abdomen

  • Pain and difficulty during copulation

  • Problem during peeing

  • Severe infections that lead to infertility or difficulty in childbirth

  • Traumas, depression, PTSD

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Exposure to diseases, and higher risks of STDs, to mention a few.

The Progress in the Bid to Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) so far

FGM is a violation of the human rights of women and girls as recognized in many international and national human rights instruments.

Although early instruments did not clearly refer to Female Genital Mutilation, they provide a firm foundation for women to be free from any form of violence included FGM. For example, The right to be free from all forms of discrimination against women which is provided in Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 1 and 3, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Preamble; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Preamble and Article 9 (1); and The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), (Article 19), The 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt,The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Charter) (1990), The 1998 Banjul Declaration on Violence against Women - Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices and the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) strongly condemn FGM.

A number of associations have also been formed to combat Female Genital Mutilation. One of such is GAMS which stands for Group against Sexual Mutilation and harmful practices against Women and Children, is a group of African and European women and men that fight for the abolition of FGM. FORWARD is an African Diaspora led women's advocacy and support charity set up in 1985. #HerVoiceMatters: Her Voice, Her Future

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
2024 theme for the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

In recognizing the 13th day of the international day of zero tolerance for FGM, and amplifying and directing efforts towards its elimination, the United Nations is pushing for the support of survivor-led calls to action, initiatives, and programmes to ensure that other survivors are empowered, have access to health services, and reclaim their agency, rights and choices. By investing in and amplifying the voices of survivors, a human centered approach is taken in addressing this ill and solutions are created by survivors who have gone through these experiences and understand the risks and effects of FGM and the need to abolish it. You can be a part of this movement by sharing your call to action with the hastags #HerVoiceMatters and #EndFGM.


The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a powerful reminder of our collective responsibility to protect the rights and well-being of girls and women worldwide. You and I have a role to play in eradicating FGM. It transcends borders and cultures, uniting us in our commitment to eradicate this harmful practice. By fostering international cooperation, raising awareness, and advocating for change, we can create a world where every girl is free from the threat of FGM.  References/Read More

WRITTEN BY Sharon Eseoghene Ogbuehi.

Sharon Eseoghene Ogbuehi is a law undergraduate at the University of Benin City, Nigeria. She is a writer, a lover of literature, a baker, and a cook. She is interested in humanitarianism, politics, human rights, the rights of women and children, etc.Want to connect with Sharon?Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or connect with her on Linkedin!

EDITED BY Chizulu Uwolloh.

'Zulu is a writer, self-proclaimed, bibliophile, and lawyer passionate about social impact and showing people how they can create change in their communities. 

Want to connect with Zulu?

Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or connect with her on Linkedin!

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