– Release date: 06 February 2008
Message of Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA.
Today UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, calls for stronger commitment to end female genital mutilation. We call on governments to protect the rights of women and girls.
We call on leaders to take action to end female genital mutilation in line with the United Nations resolution adopted last year. In the resolution, governments reiterated that female genital mutilation violates the rights of women and girls. They said the practice constitutes an irreparable, irreversible abuse. They cited mounting medical evidence that female genital mutilation poses a serious threat to the health of women and girls, increasing their vulnerability to HIV, raising the risk of maternal and infant mortality, and harming their psychological and sexual and reproductive health.
Despite these findings, an estimated 100 million to 140 million women and girls worldwide have undergone the practice and 3 million more girls are at risk each year. Many women and girls are traumatized by the experience and suffer in silence, afraid of being excluded from their communities.
In line with the resolution, UNFPA calls on governments to develop effective policies for the elimination of female genital mutilation. We urge all decision makers, at all levels, to play leadership roles in eliminating female genital mutilation. We call on national and community leaders to support the development of prevention and educational programmes, which take into account local beliefs and realities.
Intensified efforts are urgently needed to stop the practice in all its forms. Today, UNFPA pledges to increase support for efforts to end female genital mutilation. We call on governments and other partners to contribute to the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme and trust fund to end the harmful practice in one generation in 17 high-prevalence countries.
At UNFPA, we remain committed to women’s empowerment and gender equality and the right to sexual and reproductive health.