Video Message by Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the General Assembly, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
6 February 2021
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first-ever resolution against female genital mutilation (FGM); a practice which leads to health complications including chronic pain, infection, increased risk of HIV transmission, anxiety, depression, birth complications, infertility, and in some cases, death.
Let me be clear: FGM has no place in society. It is internationally recognized as an extreme violation of the rights of women and girls. ICPD25, the Beijing Declaration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development have set forth a transformative global agenda that prioritizes the human rights of girls and women, including the elimination of FGM.
Girls and women are often left behind due to social, political, and economic factors. For poor and marginalized girls, these factors intersect and increase their risk of undergoing FGM. In this Decade of Action and Delivery to implement the SDGs, I call on all Member States to take urgent steps to achieve target 5.3, ‘Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation’.
While change is happening, progress is not universal, and it is not fast enough. In countries where the practice of FGM has become less common, we were not on track to implement the SDGs even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. This global health pandemic has had a direct and lasting impact on FGM prevention services. UNFPA projects that 2 million extra girls are now at risk.
If we are to create change, women and girls need to participate in COVID-19 response decision-making at all levels. Moreover, ending FGM needs to be integrated into all COVID-19 response plans. This includes mitigating the impact on access to prevention and care services and the provision of community-based protection.
We must mobilize grassroot support to address FGM as it has been proven effective. The involvement of traditional and community leaders, as well as community service organizations and non-governmental organizations in the fight against FGM is essential.
Moreover, equitable access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities accelerates the elimination of FGM, contributes to equitable social and economic development, and ensures no girl or woman is left behind.
This is no time for global inaction. We must unite, fund, and act to #EndFGM once and for all.