This challenge supports innovative interventions to bring about a sustained change in attitudes and social norms towards ending FGM/C
Challenge Status: This challenge is now closed. See the Winners Page for information on the winning submissions.
Prize amount: 3 winners have been awarded $25,000
In Collaboration With: Amplify Change
AmplifyChange is a multi-donor fund to support civil society advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and rights. AmplifyChange provide over 500 grants to strengthen social movements for change worldwide working to secure recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights as human rights.
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The WHO defines female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO, 2008). The UN estimates that globally at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM/C. FGM/C is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15. Different communities carry out FGM/C for a variety of reasons ranging from supposed hygiene or aesthetics benefits to a sense of religious, cultural or familial obligation (UNFPA, 2017).
FGM/C reflects entrenched gender inequality, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women. It is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women including their rights to health, security and physical integrity and their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (UNFPA and UNICEF, 2017).
Health risks can include cysts, tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections; infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of new-born deaths. It is also thought that FGM/C may be linked to HIV, through two routes: often many girls are cut with the same razor, and FGM/C can increase reproductive tract and lower pelvic infections that increase a woman’s vulnerability to HIV (UNFPA 2017).
The Sustainable Development Goals include a specific target to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and FGM/C, by the year 2030.
Many countries have now passed legislation to ban the practice, which is an important step, but legislation in itself is not sufficient to transform the practice due to its deep cultural roots in the societies where it is practised. The introduction of legal bans can present additional challenges by driving it underground and result in it being done to girls at an even younger age. Additionally, fear of being prosecuted can lead to the resulting health problems being kept secret and those subjected to it having to suffer in silence without proper medical help (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit 2011). These challenges underline the importance of promoting awareness and transforming discriminatory social norms that drive the practice in communities. The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme to Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation estimates that as many as 30 million girls are at risk of being cut over the next decade if current trends continue. For FGM/C to stop, attitudes towards it and social norms in practising communities must be changed.
We support interventions that demonstrate they have effected a sustained change in attitudes and social norms at community level towards ending the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting. This includes the attitudes of practitioners, boys and men, families, community leaders and the broader community.
Indicators of success included reported change in attitude, reduction in cutting, practitioners taking on a new role in the community and uncut girls not experiencing social or economic disadvantages or discrimination as a result of not being subject to the practice. Additionally, young parents not allowing their daughters to be cut, young men expressing their interest in marrying uncut women and influential community figures declaring their support for total abandonment are meaningful indicators.
Challenge statement: We are looking for interventions that can demonstrate they have effected a sustained change in attitudes and social norms at community level towards ending the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (2011) Female Genital Mutilation and Legislation
UNFPA (2017) Female genital mutilation (FGM) frequently asked questions
UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (2017) Accelerating change by the numbers
World Health Organization (2008) Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An interagency statement, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIFEM, OHCHR, UNHCR, UNECA, UNESCO, UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO