Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, as well as the health and integrity of girls and women. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical purposes.

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM in countries where it is severe. In 2020 alone, 4.1 million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM worldwide.

Female Genital Mutilation in Tanzania

Despite the efforts done by the Tanzanian Government, Police Force, Civil Society Organizations, Development Partners and Communities, FGM remains a national epidemic. According to the Tanzania Demographic Health Survey 2015/16, 10% of all women aged 15 to 49, and 4.7% of those aged 15-19 have experienced Female Genital Mutilation. On the other hand, 35% of mutilated women aged 15-46 underwent FGM before the age of one. FGM prevalence in rural areas is more than double compare to urban areas. The highest percentage of mutilated women are in Manyara (58%), Dodoma (47%), Arusha (41%), Mara (32%) and Singida (31%).

Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2020

The United Nations General Assembly designated February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The aim of this day is to amplify the efforts done by various stakeholders in eradicating female genital mutilation.

This year as we commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, engagement of youth in the elimination of this particular harmful practice is necessary. This is highlighted in this year’s theme titled: “Unleashing Youth Power: One decade of accelerating actions for zero female genital mutilation.”

For so long, youth have been enduring various forms of gender-based violence including FGM, it is now their time to take a stand against FGM and other forms of violence. With a significant upsurge in population, especially the youth demographic (ages 15-35 according to the Tanzania National Youth Development Policy of 2007), investing in youth is indispensable.

Health risks of FGM

FGM has no health benefits and it harms girls and women in so many ways. According to WHO, FGM has the following health risks:

Short-term health risks of FGM

  • Severe pain
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Genital tissue swelling
  • Infections
  • HIV infection
  • Urination problems
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Death
  • Mental health problems

 

Long-term health risks of FGM

  • Pain
  • Vaginal problems
  • Menstrual problems
  • Excessive scar tissue
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Sexual health problems
  • Child birth complication (obstetric complications)
  • Perinatal risks
  • Mental health problems

 

Efforts made by CDF and other stakeholders

Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) has been collaborating with the Government, Police Force, development partners, Civil Society Organizations, higher learning institutions and communities in safeguarding rights and welfare of the child, especially the girl child, in all levels across Tanzania.

In order to prevent GBV as well as support survivors of violence, education and economic independence are some of the core elements. In collaboration with local government authorities (LGAs) and development partners, CDF has developed 26 out of school clubs: 20 in Tarime District in Mara region, 4 in Mpwapwa District in Dodoma region and 2 in Ilala District in Dar es Salaam. Whereby the club members are girls and young women affected by teenage pregnancy, child marriage, FGM, school dropouts and other forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Young women receiving entrepreneurship skills from CDF’s Head of Field operations in Mpwapwa District, Dodoma Region.

 

In these clubs, the young women are trained in entrepreneurial skills, batik tie and dye, soap making, tailoring and beadwork. They are also supported with loans and start up kits to run their businesses. Alongside the business management skills they receive training on sexual and reproductive health education, self-awareness and life skills as well as reporting of GBV cases.

From the skills gained, young women are able to develop business ideas and start their own income-generating activities. Moreover, CDF supported the young women with start-up capital to kick-start their businesses.

CDF has succeeded in initiating and carrying out these interventions with the support of the Embassy of Sweden, FORWARD UK, Baillie Gifford, Comic Relief, Sigrid Rausing, UNFPA, the High Commission of Canada, the European Union through Plan International and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

 

The Tanzanian Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Hon. Ummy Mwalimu, visiting CDF’s booth displaying products made by girls in CDF’s clubs during 2018 International Day of the Girl Child