UNICEF Underscores The Transformative Potential of Health Education In Combating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

On the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation celebrated on February 6, UNICEF emphasizes the critical importance of ongoing education for girls and women regarding the harmful repercussions of FGM.

UNICEF highlights that daughters of educated women are statistically less likely to undergo FGM compared to those whose mothers lack education. Defined by the World Health Organization, FGM encompasses all procedures involving the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This practice inflicts severe health consequences on girls and women, including bleeding, urinary problems, infections, cysts, childbirth complications, and an increased risk of newborn deaths.

FGM is universally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, primarily perpetrated by traditional practitioners on minors, thus violating the rights of children. Disturbingly, over 200 million girls and women in 30 countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have undergone FGM. Predominantly performed on girls aged under 15, FGM incurs substantial costs to healthcare systems, estimated at US$1.4 billion annually, with projections of further escalation without decisive action towards its eradication.

In a UNICEF report titled “Ending Female Genital Mutilation: Data that delivers change and results for girls and women,” alarming statistics reveal that approximately 35% of girls aged zero to 14 in the Southeast region and 30% in the Southwest region of Nigeria are affected by FGM. Notably, Ekiti State accounts for nearly 24% of affected girls, while Oyo State follows closely at 21%.

Another report titled “The power of education to end female genital mutilation” emphasizes the pivotal role of education in raising awareness about the dangers of FGM and challenging its societal acceptance. Education fosters critical thinking, provides opportunities for social integration, and exposes individuals to interventions and discourse condemning the practice. Chief of UNICEF Lagos Office, Celine Lafoucriere, advocates for intensified education, advocacy, and legal measures to combat FGM, emphasizing the need to promote alternative cultural practices that uphold the rights and dignity of girls.

UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Denis Onoise, underscores the holistic approach required to support FGM survivors, addressing their physical, psychological, and emotional needs, while empowering them to champion change.

Oluchi Omai

Oluchi Omai is a Blogger/ Content Creator, he is a prolific writer and movie maker.

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