Female genital cutting – UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday called for more action to check the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).
The UN agencies made call in a joint statement to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.
They, however, noted that new data have shown that fewer girls are subjected to the life-threatening practice.
'The data shows that FGM/C is becoming less prevalent overall and the younger generation is less vulnerable to the practice,' they stated.
In the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where the practice of FGM/C is concentrated, 36 per cent of girls on average aged 15-19 have been cut compared to an estimated 53 per cent of women aged 45-49.
The statement said the decline was particularly sharp in some countries such as Kenya where women aged 45-49 were three times more likely to have been cut than girls aged 15-19.
It quoted the UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake as saying that, this progress shows it is possible to end FGM/C.
'FGM/C is not only deeply wrong, we can and must end it to help millions of girls and women lead healthier lives,” he said.
He said these recent estimates produced by UNICEF showed that at least 120 million girls and women had experienced FGM/C in these 29 countries and as many as 30 million girls under the age of 15 may still be at risk.
UNFPA Executive Director, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, noted that empowering women and girls was key to breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and for the promotion and protection of human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
Osotimehin said working with governments and civil societies, UNFPA and UNICEF had successfully implemented a human rights-based and culturally sensitive approach to ending FGM/C.
The UNFPA and UNICEF Executive Directors noted that if the political will expressed in the General Assembly resolution was translated into concrete investments, FGM/C could become a vestige of the past.
They also echoed the resolution’s call for a coordinated approach that promoted positive social change at community, national, regional and international levels.
The statement said the UNFPA and UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C was currently making progress in preventing girls and future generations from being exposed to FGM/C.
The new development followed the unanimous adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution in December 2012 calling on member states to intensify efforts toward the complete elimination of FGM/C.
Since 2008, when the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C was established, nearly 10,000 communities in 15 countries, representing about 8 million people, have renounced the practice.
Last year a total of 1,775 communities across Africa publicly declared their commitment to end FGM/C.
A comprehensive compilation and analysis of nationally representative data on FGM/C will be published by UNICEF in mid-2013.
It will provide a global assessment of levels and trends, as well as statistics at the national and regional levels.