Earlier this year, during the 60th Commission on Status of Women (CSW) held in New York with the theme “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development”, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was for the first time included in the global goals under Sustainable Development goal 5. Target 5.3: Eliminate all harmful practices such as child, early/forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
For the millions of girls currently at risk of FGM this new global goal brings the promise of a better future.
Globally, an estimated 100 Million to 140 Million girls alive today have undergone some form of FGM (UNFPA 2015). Unfortunately if the current trend continues, an estimated 15 Million girls between ages 15 and 19 will be subjected to female genital mutilation between now and 2030. Additionally millions of girls are currently suffering from the pychological effects due to the pain and shock as well as the physical effects of FGM such as fistula, difficulty during childbirth,HIV AIDS among others.
Eliminating FGM is a crucial step in achieving many of the other Sustainable Development Goals including targets on health and well-being, education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth. As the practice of FGM continues, the health/well-being of girls and women is threatened and they are denied opportunities for decent work and quality education.
This provision is also a great platform for the billions of the youth in the world campaigning against the practice.
Why the youth?
According to UNFPA2015, 1.8billion people between the ages of 10-24 constitute to the worlds population. These are great numbers that can push for desired change! I slightly fall out of this age gap but guess what?
We just got a great provision to enable us eliminate FGM in one generation. We are powerful in eradicating FGM since we are the Change agents, we are the revolutionists. A new beginning starts with us and a new world is definitely molded by us.
We are the voice and the driving force behind the developments to eliminate harmful customs and traditional practices within our generation.
We are the pacesetters; we set a trend that the next generation will follow, the future of the next generation is therefore destined in us. We are the blacksmiths of this current and future world, we can shape it the best way possible since we have the power and the ability to advocate for change.
We are the innovators, most creative ideas generate within us. We have the right technology that we can incorporate in our campaign to end FGM.
We have the energy to work, energy to lead, ability to influence decision making, ability to influence policy formation and law enforcement.
We have unique talents: ability to sing, write, draw, dance etc. We can use our various talents to drive Anti-FGM messages home.
We are the future leaders, doctors, midwives, social workers, and teachers. We are therefore supposed to take up the leadership roles now. We are practically the leaders of our nations. Let us use this power to direct and influence change.
It is necessary that we learn now why FGM and early child/forced marriages is wrong so that we can grow in a society that condemns these practices. Do we in the first place really know about the practice? How can we influence change without the knowledge? Let’s start by empowering ourselves with the right information through education. Education is key in eradicating these practices, we need to pioneer for interactive resources that can be used in a classroom setting, both formal and informal education, Mali, Kenya and Burkina Faso has done it. These way children do not accept FGM unquestionably as an inviolable tradition. Through education, young people learn to think for themselves and make decisions for themselves and future families.
We need to realize that we cannot work as stand-alone entities. Let’s come together, tap into available resources, converge all our unique talents and abilities, form a national movement that speaks with one voice and move with synergy towards eradicating FGM and other social malpractices. Let’s create a national dialogue, engage the key players and create relationships with all the activists and organizations campaigning against FGM .Our concerted effort can indeed wipe out the practice.
Let us not focus on teaching young people solely from FGM affected background; it is necessary to educate all young people. FGM is a human right abuse and therefore