Equality Now advocates for a world where women and girls have control over their bodies and choices. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which affects more than 200 million women and girls around the world, is a human rights violation deeply rooted in gender equality and discrimination.
What is FGM?
Female Genital Mutilation is the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is mostly carried out – without anesthetic – on girls between infancy and age 15. FGM has zero health benefits and often results in lifelong health problems, increased risks during childbirth, psychological trauma, and even death.
Often rationalized as a rite of passage into womanhood, in reality FGM is an extreme form of violence used to control girls’ and women’s sexuality. It involves a mixture of cultural, social and religious traditions associated with preparing for adulthood and marriage, and ideals of community, modesty and fidelity. Most instances occur in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but FGM is also practiced in Australia, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand and North America.
Activists, community leaders, educators, health care providers and law and policy makers are increasingly working together to end FGM. International law and agencies such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF have condemned it, and in 2012, the UN General Assembly officially put eliminating FGM on the global agenda. This historic resolution was led by African Member States and supported by an international coalition including Equality Now.
How Equality Now works to end FGM
Results show that when women’s and girls’ human rights are reinforced and legally protected, FGM declines or is abandoned altogether. Equality Now has been at the forefront of efforts to end FGM, pushing for laws that protect girls and criminalize the practice, and supporting grassroots activists working to end FGM in their communities. Equality Now is also proud to be a co-founding partner of The Girl Generation, a social change campaign celebrating the Africa-led movement to end FGM within a generation.
FGM is global, but so is the movement to end it.
"At a time when the Africa-led momentum to end FGM is growing, it is vital that we do not lose the opportunity to protect more girls and women from this huge violation of their rights."
-MARY WANDIA, END FGM PROGRAM MANAGER, EQUALITY NOW