Summary Report of Phase I 2008 - 2013
"Key to the Joint Programme's success is encouraging communities to act collectively..."
This 52-page report reflects on the experience of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, which is being implemented in 15 African countries. A partnership between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the programme intends to apply a culturally sensitive, human-rights-based approach that strategically leverages social dynamics to promote abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). "The Joint Programme has maintained a consistent focus on changing the value attributed to girls and women affected by FGM/C throughout its six years. Enabling their potential, empowering their aspirations, and ensuring their protection has constituted a core of the comprehensive human rights-based and culturally-sensitive approach of the programme."
Through chapters that focus on strategies of collaborating with national actors and fostering local-level commitment (including by working in partnership with religious and traditional leaders), the report discusses achievements made by the Joint Programme to change how families and communities view the practice while supporting national and community efforts to end FGM/C. These achievements include public declarations of abandonment voiced by 12,753 communities, expanded political will by governments to openly condemn the practice, enhanced capacity of government authorities to respond to FGM/C, and endorsement and commitment by the global community of governments, United Nations agencies, and other partners towards ending FGM/C. At the national level, the Joint Programme has stimulated collaboration among government actors, parliamentarians, traditional and religious leaders, civil society organisations, the media, FGM/C practitioners, and service providers. Evidence of strengthened awareness and commitment to end FGM/C includes public statements, the creation or improvement of FGM/C-related legislation, and the development of national or sector-specific action plans and strategies.
The Joint Programme also supports the integration of FGM/C prevention efforts into reproductive health services and the education system. For example, health workers are discussing the harmful effects of FGM/C during routine antenatal, neonatal care, and immunisation services. Prevention activities are also being integrated into elementary school and junior high school curricula, as well as during teacher training. In some countries, medicalisation of the practice is threatening inroads to abandonments, and so this becomes a special focus of advocacy.
The report notes that communication and media play a vital role. "More than 26,147 newspaper articles, and TV and radio programmes discussed the benefits of ending the practice - helping to shape the ongoing public discourse on FGM/C in the respective country and/or region. The content of media events included information about the law, health consequences of FGM/C, advertising on the availability of reconstructive care, delinking FGM/C and religion, testimonies of survivors of FGM/C, publicity for a toll-free number for reporting cases of FGM/C, coverage of prosecution, and community interventions and programmes." The media has also helped contribute to a shift in social norms by giving visibility to community-based activities and to public declarations of commitment to abandon the practice.
In conclusion, the report states that "[i]n order to address the challenges identified at the end of the first phase of the Joint Programme, and keep the momentum moving forward, two critical things are needed. First, further scaling up is necessary. The programmes must reach those who have not yet been part of the process. Second, these processes must be sustained for more time. Alongside accelerating change, countries must sustain change until the world marks the very last case of FGM/C in history."
UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme website on September 16 2014.