The United Nations in Somalia recently partnered with Ifrah Foundation, a leading Somali non-governmental organization, to step up the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) in two of the Horn of Africa country’s Federal Member States.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Country Programme Manager for UN Women Somalia, Sadiq Syed, noted that the partnership with Ifrah Foundation will provide further opportunities for grass-root interventions and partnerships with key stakeholders.
“This partnership agreement that we have signed with the Ifrah Foundation will provide further opportunities for grass-root interventions and partnerships with key stakeholders, including clan elders, women leaders and youth, for impactful programming,” Sadiq Syed said.
“Overall support for FGM is decreasing, and there are positive signs of generational changes in the practice, which need to be further nurtured to put an end to FGM,” Mr. Syed added.
During the signing which took place in Mogadishu, Ifrah Ahmed, the founder and executive director of the Ifrah Foundation, highlighted that the partnership will enable it to reach out to communities and collaborate with clan elders, religious leaders, women, men and youth in collective advocacy against FGM in Somalia’s South West State and Jubaland.
The practice of FGM involves the partial or total removal of female genitalia or other injuries made to female genital organs.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Somalia has the world’s highest prevalence of FGM, with an estimated 98 per cent of all women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 having been subjected to the procedure. FGM can have severe adverse effects on the physical, mental and psychosocial health of those who undergo the practice, with consequences that are both immediate and life-long.
In his remarks, Mr. Syed noted that ending FGM and other harmful practices is key to promoting overall gender equality and a prerequisite for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone everywhere, and were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda, which sets out a 15-year plan to achieve the SDGs.
The partnership between UN Women Somalia and the Ifrah Foundation is part of the Government of Japan-funded Women’s Leadership, Empowerment, Access and Protection (LEAP) programme in Somalia, which seeks to promote gender-responsive stabilization and recovery of conflict-affected displaced women and men in Kismayo, the interim capital of Jubaland, and Baidoa, the interim capital of South West State.
Through the UN Women – Ifrah Foundation partnership, the LEAP project team will organize a series of events including inclusive and regular community-led dialogue sessions to challenge negative norms, support the community to develop and implement community-led action plans against FGM and Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) followed by the proclamation of a declaration of zero tolerance of negative social norms.
A public event will also be organised, where participants will pledge through a campaign not to cut their daughter. This partnership will also help identify and train 60 formal, traditional and religious community leaders to act as leaders in action to reduce FGM and SGBV, and will also identify 60 women, men, youth, girls and boys to act as champions who spearhead advocacy efforts against FGM and SGBV.
The project will also establish linkages with similar ongoing initiatives and promote multi-media advocacy and community outreach activities targeting 25,000 women, men, boys, and girls to address underlying negative social norms and attitudes that condone gender inequality by promoting the role of men and boys as advocates for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.
Working with governments, and often in close collaboration with grass-roots community organizations, the United Nations – through UNFPA, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) joined by UN Women– is lobbying actively for the elimination of FGM.
More than 200 million girls and women worldwide have experienced FGM. According to the two UN agencies, in 25 countries where FGM is routinely practised and data are available, an estimated 68 million girls will be cut between 2015 and 2030 unless concerted and accelerated action is taken.