By Sola Ogundipe
THE wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has urged wives of the state Governors in the country to use their position towards ensuring that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) comes to an end within a generation. Buhari, who spoke Tuesday in Abuja, at the formal launch of a national response to eliminate the practice, told wives of Governors of states where the harmful practice is rampant, to be the voice of the campaign to end FGM/C in their various states. “We are mothers and women and have the primary role to use our privileged positions to make lives better for Nigerians, especially women and girls.
“I urge you to be vocal on the need for FGM/C to end in Nigeria and take action that will enable this to happen,” she noted. UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Jean Gough, stated: “Not one of the myths surrounding this practice has any basis in truth. The only truth is that on every level this is a harmful and brutal practice that has a detrimental impact on the health and the human rights of women and girls.”
Also speaking, UNFPA Nigeria Representative, Mrs. Ratidzai Ndhlovu described FGM as an extreme form of violence against women and girls. “It violates her reproductive rights and her bodily integrity. To end this harmful practice, we must understand not only where and how it is practiced, but also the social dynamics that perpetuate it, so we can use that knowledge to persuade practitioners to end the practice,” she argued.
The event was a collaboration between the Federal government and the Joint UNFPA/UNICEF Programme on FGM/C Abandonment, in partnership with several civil society organizations.
The national response to accelerate change and eliminate the practice within a generation – estimated at 20 years – will be based on information gathered in a study on the beliefs, knowledge, and practices of FGM/C that was conducted last year by UNICEF, UNFPA and partners in six high-prevalence states: Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun, Oyo and Lagos.
Findings of the study highlight the need for sustained communication with communities and collaboration with the media to promoting the social change needed for FGM/C abandonment. A new global target and call to action to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030 was launched on February 6, International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM by UNFPA Executive Director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, and UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake.