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UN chiefs say FGM compromises health, dignity of Gambian women

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The female heads of two UN agencies in The Gambia have lamented that the dignity, health, and wellbeing of the 75 percent of women and girls in The Gambia who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), have been compromised.

In a joint statement issued yesterday to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation observed today, UNFPA The Gambia representative Ms Ndeye Rose Sarr and Unicef The Gambia representative Ms Nafisa Binte Shafique underscored that the fight against FGM is not only about preventing girls from being physically subjected to the practice, but a concerted effort to safeguard and restore the rights and well-being of girls and women globally.

They said their agencies are committed to the urgent need to eliminate FGM and advance gender equality. “We recommit ourselves to upholding the significant challenges ahead as we work to support ending this harmful practice. This year’s theme: Her Voice, Her Future: Investing in Survivors-Led Movements to End Female Genital Mutilation, aims to amplify the resilient voices of survivors and invest in survivor-led movements to expedite the realisation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Now more than ever, we must listen to and support survivors while investing in policies and programmes that champion their wellbeing in the fight against FGM,” the statement read.

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However, they acknowledge that progress has been made in The Gambia towards eliminating FGM because of the collaborative efforts of government, civil society organisations, communities, and development partners.

But with seven years remaining in the SDGs decade of action, they noted, significant work needed to be done as “the prevalence of FGM in The Gambia remains a concern and its harmful health and psychological consequences persist”.

The joint statement by UNFPA and Unicef called for enhanced collaboration among the government, civil society organisations, communities, and development partners to accelerate efforts in eradicating FGM.

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These, they said, involves raising awareness, supporting survivors, and strengthening legal frameworks to protect girls and women from the harmful practice.

The UNFPA and Unicef agencies in the country urged stakeholders to be part of the global movement to end FGM and ensure a safer, healthier, and more equitable future for every girl and woman.

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