L-R: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Resident Representative, Ms. Ulla Mueller; Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen OFR, KSG; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, H E. Ambassador Anthonia Ekpa PhD; and DG of the National Council for Women Society, Barr Mary Ekpere at the event yesterday
…FGM: Women Affairs Minister, UNFPA call for more Action
By Ignatius Ushie
As Nigeria joins the international community to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen OFR, KSG has called for more convictions of perpetrators to serve as a deterrent to others, adding that available statistics reveal that Nigeria has the highest number of cases on FGM in the world, accounting for about 115 million out of 130 million circumcised women worldwide.
Tallen who stated this on Friday at a Joint Ministerial Media briefing to flag off activities marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), pointed out that the South-South zone in Nigeria with 77% among adult women, has the highest prevalence practice in Nigeria, followed by the South-East zone with 68% and South-West zone with 65%. The Northern part of Nigeria is also not free from this practice
The Minister remarked that February 6 every year is set aside to create awareness on the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation across countries in the world, and this year’s theme, “No Time for Global Inaction: Unite, Fund and Act to End Female Genital Mutilation”, speaks to the collective responsibilities in the campaign against FGM”.
According to her, “Eliminating FGM is crucial to realizing many of the other Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs), including targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth.
“While the practice of FGM continues, girls and women are denied quality education, opportunities for decent work and their health including (sexual and reproductive) and well-being are threatened. This practice violates their human right to bodily integrity”, she said.
She harped on the need to work together to provide an enabling environment to support the victims through making FGM related services free and increase the awareness on the health and social impact of these practices on the economy.
The Minister revealed that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has made remarkable progress in the crusade to eradicate FGM and other harmful practices with support from UNFPA in the following areas: Engagement with State Governors, notable women leaders, traditional/religious leaders, state Legislatures, young boys and girls, media, private sectors and professional bodies on ending all forms of Harmful Practices that are against women and girls in Sokoto, Oyo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Kwara and Gombe states.
The establishment of Surveillance system and mobilization of FGM champions to deliver door to door household discussions with community groups for the FGM in Oyo and Osun State in the year, as well as Community Consensus Building and Public declaration of FGM Abandonment in Oyo, Osun and Ekiti State to get data of communities that are ready to abandon the FGM practice and also data of the communities that are yet to consent for the abandonment of FGM practice, as well as build a consensus and to sensitize those communities that are yet to abandon FGM practices in the community.
Tallen while commending the efforts of all their partners from the UN Agencies, Civil Societies, the Media, the private sector and individuals, stated that they will go a step further to engage with UNFPA, UNICEF, Population Council and other willing allies to ensure that they develop Standard Operating Procedures and Referral Pathways to support case management.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Resident Representative, Ms. Ulla Mueller, disclosed that globally, progress will require some $2.4 billion over the next decade, which breaks down to less than $100 per girl. However, most of this money has yet to be raised.
Mueller emphasized that Nigeria must join the global commitment efforts and ensure budget lines for FGM and other forms of GBV (Gender-based violence) are clear in the annual budgets.
“We need to ensure that girls have access to education, health care – including sexual and reproductive health services – and livelihoods and that they are protected by laws, policies and new social norms. Let us encourage the leadership skills of adolescent girls. Simply put, if gender equality were a reality, there would be no female genital mutilation”, she said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, H E. Ambassador Anthonia Ekpa PhD while expressing gladness that Nigeria is joining the rest of the world to create awareness on the matter of FGM, stressed that the commemoration is a time that avail all actors the opportunity to ensure that issues relating to women are brought to the limelight.
The DG of the National Council for Women Society, Barr Mary Ekpere, WRAPA, FIDA amongst others expressed their support of Zero tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.