Combating female genital mutilation in East Africa
Title: Regional project Improvement of the Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in East Africa
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Countries: Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan
Lead executing agency: Selected ministries in the three countries of implementation
Overall term: 2020 to 2023
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a severe violation of human rights and children’s rights committed against girls, some of whom are very young. The health consequences of FGM include childbirth complications, chronic pain and menstrual cramps. The practice increases the risk of infection, including from HIV, and leads to traumatisation and severe psychological stress. FGM is also a significant contributing factor to maternal mortality.
Although we are seeing slow social change in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, more than 90% of women and girls over the age of 15 are currently affected in the selected regions of Ethiopia (Afar and Somali) and in Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland. In Sudan, this figure is around 87 per cent.
Political efforts are being made in all three countries to combat female genital mutilation, and strategies are in place to strengthen women’s and children’s rights. In Ethiopia, FGM has been banned since 2005, while in Sudan a paragraph was added to the penal code in April 2020 to criminalise female genital mutilation. In Somalia, similar legislation is in the process of being agreed. However, there is a lack of regional coordination: key actors cannot implement preventative measures adequately.
The relevant actors have greater capacity to raise awareness at regional, national and local level for the prevention of female genital mutilation. The framework conditions for prevention and the regional coordination of the actors have improved.
The project supports broad-based political and societal change to prevent FGM in the partner countries. Staff at state and non-state institutions and organisations are supported in boosting their skills, joint learning and networking with other relevant actors. The project also promotes and establishes structures for FGM prevention in the responsible ministries.
At societal level, existing sub-national and regional structures for coordination and cooperation are supported in order to implement joint, coordinated prevention work.
New cooperation arrangements with private sector actors, the diaspora and various media are also to be set up and used. In this way, the project enables actors from different countries and regions to pool their strengths and jointly develop strategies and approaches for sustainable change.
In the longer term, the project aims to anchor FGM on the local, regional and global political agenda. Improved prevention work, stronger local and regional networks and the empowerment of change agents are instrumental in breaking drown the patriarchal structures in which FGM is rooted. The project thus contributes to strengthening the human rights of girls and women to life, equality, freedom from discrimination, education and welfare and promotes their social, societal, political and economic participation. Preventing FGM also helps to improve girls’ and women’s sexual and reproductive health.