By Gabriel Olawale
HACEY Health Initiative with support from the United Nations Trust Fund for Ending Violence against Women, has launched ‘The Stop Cut Project’ to reduce the incidence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, FGM/C in Ekiti, Osun and Oyo State.
The UN Trust Fund is the only global grant-making mechanism dedicated exclusively to addressing all forms of violence against women and girls at local and national levels. This project will directly reach over 6000 women across the three states to prevent FGM/C.
The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is commemorated on the 6th of February and is aimed at intensifying and consolidating efforts on the elimination of FGM. This year’s theme: Unleashing Youth Power, focuses on mobilizing youths for advocating for the end of this harmful practice. With Nigeria’s growing population of youths, it is imperative that they are actively involved in ending FGM. With recent progress in interventions targeted at ending FGM, it is evident that FGM could end in a single generation, as such, more effort needs to be made by the global and local community for its complete elimination by 2030. In line with this vision, the Stop Cut project will engage young people towards campaigning against FGM in order to achieve this goal.
Executive Director, HACEY Health Initiative, Rhoda Robinson said that under the three years duration of the project, “HACEY will execute this intervention in Ekiti, Osun and Oyo States to develop local capacities aimed at ending FGM/C.
The project will build the capacity of critical stakeholders such as Civil Society Organizations, media, religious and traditions leaders, government ministries and agencies as well as survivors on advocacy and engagement with policy makers to domesticate and enforce policies and laws on FGM/C at the state and local levels.
It will increase the knowledge of members of the community on these policies and laws and promote positive behavioural change towards the abandonment of FGM/C practices within the communities in the states.
Robinson explained that the States were selected based on the high prevalence rate of FGM/C within the States. “According to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, the prevalence of FGM/C in Ekiti, Osun and Oyo were 57.9 percent, 45.9 percent and 31.1percent respectively, which is higher than the national average. This shows the dire need for this intervention in these States.
“FGM/C has been identified as the violation of human rights of women and girls. In 2018, a Thomson Reuters Foundation report revealed that the prevalence of FGM/C among women of reproductive age in Nigeria is 24.8percent, affecting over 20 million women and representing 10 percent, of the global burden. Despite the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and the existence of laws and policies against Gender Based Violence, there is still a high record of FGM/C practice. Inadequate systems for law enforcement of FGM/C policies, low levels of awareness among people about policies and laws against the practice and a lack of effective coordination concerning the eradication of FGM/C all contribute to its continued practice.
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“Female Genital Mutilation is a violation of girls’ fundamental human right and cannot be justified by any cultural or religious myth. Nigeria is a signatory to global declarations and policies that protects the rights of women and girls and protects them from gender based violence. At the national level, laws and policies such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act are passed to protect women and girls from violence, including FGM/C.
However, a lot of people do not know about these laws; domestication and implementation at state and local level is very poor, encouraging the continued practice of FGM. This project will amongst other things create a heightened awareness of policies and laws among citizens and strengthen the enforcement of these laws which will go a long way in ending the harmful practice of FGM/C” – Rhoda Robinson, Executive Director, HACEY.
The Stop Cut Project will lead to increased knowledge of stakeholders and individuals on FGM/C policies, laws and its’ practices to ensure that laws are enforced and FGM/C practices are reported leading to an overall end to the practice; protecting women and girls.
HACEY Health Initiative is a development organization focused on improving the health and productivity of vulnerable and underserved population in Africa. In the past 12 years, the organization has worked with international and national agencies, and other private sector partners to implement various interventions geared at improving the health and productivity of women and girls in Africa.