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Equality Now lends its voice to the regional meeting on ending FGM medicalization in the Arab States

Equality Now was honored to participate in the regional meeting on ending FGM medicalization in the Arab States in Cairo, Egypt, on October 11-12, 2023. Our MENA Gender Advisor, Naglaa Sarhan, shared Equality Now’s experience in the field of FGM, including insightful recommendations on the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Accountability pillar of the WHO strategy.

The meeting, organized by UNFPA and UNICEF in collaboration with the League of Arab States, with official delegations representing Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Mauritania, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, Kenya, and Guinea, focused on sharing best practices from the participating countries on operationalizing the four pillars of the WHO global strategy to stop healthcare providers from performing female genital mutilation (FGM).

We are encouraged by the actionable recommendations formulated at this convening, which served as a guideline for a regional roadmap to eradicate the medicalization of FGM in the region.

What is FGM medicalization?

FGM medicalization is the performance of FGM by healthcare providers, often under the guise of medical necessity. It is a harmful and unethical practice that violates the human rights of girls and women.

FGM medicalization is harmful and unethical because it:

  • Normalizes FGM and makes it seem like a medically necessary procedure when it is not.
  • Gives FGM a veneer of legitimacy, which can make it more difficult to challenge.
  • Violates the human rights of girls and women to bodily integrity and to be free from violence and discrimination.

Equality Now is committed to working with our partners to end FGM medicalization and to ensure that all girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination. We are working to:

  • Advocate for the development and implementation of laws and policies to prohibit FGM medicalization.
  • Raise awareness of the harms of FGM medicalization and the ethical obligation of healthcare providers to refuse to perform it.
  • Provide training and support to healthcare providers on how to prevent and respond to FGM.
  • Strengthen monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track progress in ending FGM medicalization.

We are encouraged by the progress that is being made to end FGM medicalization, but there is still much work to be done. We call on all stakeholders to work together to ensure that all girls and women are protected from this harmful practice.