Friday, August 3, 2007

Giving Women Their Rights

2-3 million girls worldwide undergo FGM/C (female genital mutilation or cutting) each year, defined by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) as the “partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons.”

FGM/C is hard to talk about because it has a deeply entrenched cultural component. But the detrimental health effects on women can’t be ignored: pain, psychological trauma, infection, infertility and even death.

Today marks the end of a 4-day conference in Ethiopia convened by UNFPA devoted to understanding this practice and devising a strategy to protect those that suffer from FGM/C. Participants included many development experts, ranging from other UN agencies and NGOs to the World Bank and USAID. This gathering is meant to provide an opportunity for the intersection policy and ideas.

UNFPA is doing incredibly important work in ending harmful practices against women, while ensuring that men are also involved in this process, as well as discouraging all forms of gender-based violence.