Health and Education’s contribution to FGM

eDiscussion Summary


This e-Discussion was conducted by the Commonwealth Health Hub and the Commonwealth Education Hub between 18 July and 19 August 2016.

Download the report.

Draft Policy Brief on FGM

The Health and Education Unit of The Commonwealth would like to call for public contributions and comments on a draft policy brief on FGM. The Education aspects of the brief have been developed first. The Health aspects will be developed shortly. Cognisance will be taken of contributions submitted up to 30 September 2016.

Download draft policy brief.

Contributions to the policy brief may be submitted via the discussion forum below, or by email to:

eDiscussion on Health and Education’s contribution to FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)

The eDiscussion on FGM ran from 18 July to 19 August 2016. Contributions received will be included in the summary report which will be published during September 2016. The discussion forum on this page (see above) is available for ongoing contributions and discussion.

eDiscussion Moderator: Louise Robertson: Louise is an independent consultant and campaigner for girls’ and women’s rights.  For the last four years she worked with anti-FGM organisation 28 Too Many, helping to establish it internationally and managing communications and campaigns.

Please check back for the summative report.

Research and Reports on FGM

28TOOMANY – FGM . . .  let’s end it. The prime purpose of this Country Profile is to improve understanding of the issues relating to FGM in the wider framework of gender equality and social change.

Interventions to reduce FGM in African countries. Do they work? A Campbell Collaboration interview with Rigmor Berg (Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services, Norway) 26 Feb 2015.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change. UNICEF. This report is a comprehensive statistical overview of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the 29 countries where the practice is concentrated. Analysis of the data reflects current perspectives on FGM/C, informed by the latest policy, programmatic and theoretical evidence.
A Research Agenda to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in a Generation. Council research contributes to the global evidence base on FGM/C and influences policies and programs to end the practice.

Policy Briefs on FGM


Female Genital Mutilation programmes to date: what works and what doesn’t 

Global strategy to stop health-care providers from performing female genital mutilation

An update on WHO’s work on female genital mutilation (FGM) – Progress report

WHO guidelines on the management of health complications from female genital mutilation


Abandoning FGM/C (Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting) in Ethiopia

Young Lives:

Child Marriage and Female Circumcision (FGM/C): Evidence from Ethiopia

Population Reference Bureau:

Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Lessons from a Decade of Progress

World Vision:

Ending Child Marriage by 2030 – Tracking Progress and Identifying Gaps

Policies on FGM

Policy on female genital mutilation (FGM). Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). 1996.


FGM is globally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted gender inequality, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. It is usually carried out on minors and as such is a form of child abuse. FGM also violates many other human rights including rights to security, to be free from torture and in too many cases the right to life.

Female genital mutilation or FGM (sometimes called female genital cutting or circumcision) is described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a harmful practice comprising all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA, 1997). A number of terms are used to refer to the practice with “female circumcision” or “cutting”, being key among these. The Term FGM encompasses a broad range of procedures and practices including the use of herbs or chemicals and is the mostly widely accepted term among policy makers. The hub accepts that different terms are used in certain contexts and to describe the same or similar procedures and/or practices.

It has existed for more than 2,000 years, and is usually carried out on girls under the age of 14 but can be performed on girls of only a few days old, up to just before marriage. It is traditionally practiced by non-medically trained women, in unsterile conditions and without anaesthetic. FGM has no known health benefits and causes lifelong physical and psychological harm. It not only harms those who undergo the procedure but also affects family, community relationships and economic development.

It is widely acknowledged that there is no tool for development more effective than the education and empowerment of women. A lack of gender equality and girl’s education can suppress the voice of women who otherwise could contribute more fully to the well-being of the whole community.

In parts of the Commonwealth where these harmful practices are widespread, the impact reverberates way beyond the individual and impacts negatively on the community. Aside from great suffering, FGM impacts negatively on women’s ability to fulfil their potential and reinforces cycles of discrimination and poverty.

1. Despite being illegal in most countries, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have experienced FGM and at least 3 million girls are at risk. One girl is cut every 10 seconds across the world.  This fosters greater gender inequality and the abandonment of these practices is key to reaching developmental and education targets.1. What are the social and historical reasons for FGM being practiced in your country?
2. What policy responses are effective in reducing the health and wider social burden of FGM? Both to seek to reduce the practice itself as well as dealing with the consequences?
3. FGM is often mistakenly seen as a positive health intervention by those involved. How should the education and health systems work to deal with this issue?
4. FGM is a complex issue affecting all in society not just the women directly affected. What other issues do you see as connected to this issue and how could dealing with them be part of the solution?


A short version of the film, Nancy, a one girl revolution is available online. Nancy Tomee was sponsored through secondary school in Kenya from 2011 to 2014 by the Commonwealth Girls Education Fund (CGEF). This film was made to amplify the impact of the change one girl demanded for herself! It opens discussions on the many barriers that girls face to education such as FGM, child marriage and bride price. In oral traditions in particular storytelling can be used to dismantle taboos, shift social norms, inspire young girls and parents to know their legal rights, encourage opinion formers to speak up and promote awareness of health issues as well as the benefits of girl’s education. Nancy demonstrates that change is possible and that the desire for it is rising from within the women themselves at the grassroots.


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Contributions to the eDiscussion


Nancy A One Girl Revolution, is the story of Nancy, a young African Suffragette (21), leading a movement to end FGM and child marriage. She is a young rebel, who for the last decade has helped save many women within the Pokot region in Kenya. A brilliant speaker she is leading a movement yet still just a college girl herself. Her story so far has been filmed over five years, since 2010 during which time she resists being cut and is then sponsored through school by a charity, originally linked to the commonwealth and the British Suffragettes. (CGEF) After years of protesting and campaigning, the film sees her invited by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to address the First Ladies at the United Nations where the speech impressed the Kenyan President’s wife so much she hugged Nancy and later offered support. Nancy received the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Award for Courage.


This is all about the selfish men who practice FGM. they believe in ensuring their sexual pleasures and theY believe that the girl remains a virgin. am trying to dig deeper and see if there is anything the girl benefits and so far i have not found out anything and i think i need to be more educated if there is anything positive in FGM. Lets try to educate our communities that FGM has no place in this world. Eduaction will play a very big role in reducing and eradicating FGM.

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