With the alarming statistics that Nigeria accounts for 10% of the global Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) burden with highest prevalence in Southwestern States in the country, the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen OFR, KSG has stated there is a need for state of emergency to be declared on the issue.
The Minister made this call at the Joint Ministerial Press Briefing event in commemoration of the zero-tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) held at the United Nations (UN) House, Abuja.
Dame Tallen described theme for the event: “Partnering with the men and boys to transform social and gender norms to end female genital mutilation #menendiFGM” as apt, “as we need more men to achieve the stated objective of the programme.”
Tallen who described FGM as extreme form of violence performed on women and girls to alter their genital for non-medical reasons; asserted that the practise constitutes a violation of girls and women’s rights. She disclosed that in the communities where the FGM is practised, various reasons have been used to justify the practice which include being seen as an integral part of their cultural and religious obligation, a way to increase women fertility, boost their ability to procreate, as well as for child’s survival. She revealed that over 19.9 million women and girls have undergone FGM in Nigeria.
The Minister emphasised that tackling the issue of FGM requires action at many levels including families and communities. She said it will also involve the protection and care for girls and women, laws and political commitments at local and region levels.
Dame Tallen promised that her Ministry will continue to advocate for laws to punish perpetrators of this unjust act; with the domestication of 2015 Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, partnering entertainment industry for change, creating women and girls offline and online platforms to build partners and agencies’ capacities. The Minister added that, her Ministry will continue to appreciate the 2021 UNICEF-supported “Movement for Good to End Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria.”
In his closing remark, the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shinkafi said he was happy to see that the event recognised the power of partnership, collaboration and networking among stakeholders to defeat the scourge of FGM in Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary commended the working relationship going on between the Ministry and Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Justice and other development partners.
The joint media briefing had in attendance, UN-Women, UNICEF, UNFPA, other agencies. There were representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).