Sexual and reproductive health

WHO marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation

Photo of a Gender Equality Advocate, Kenya
UN Women/Ryan Brown
Gender Equality Advocate, Purity Soinato Oiyie, Kenya.

6 February 2019 | Today WHO joins individuals, organizations and UN partners worldwide in marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM is recognized internationally as a grave violation of the human rights of girls and women. It comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have experienced FGM in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated. FGM is a global issue however, and there are girls and women living with FGM in all regions of the world. It is therefore crucial that health care workers everywhere are able to recognise FGM and to treat girls and women effectively.

High-quality health care for girls and women living with FGM: WHO launches new clinical handbook

Midwife at a health centre, Ethiopia
UNICEF Ethiopia
Midwife at a health centre, Ethiopia

Addressing the many – and often invisible – health consequences of FGM
1 MAY 2018 | Girls and women who have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) need high quality, empathetic and appropriate health care to meet their specific needs. WHO has launched a new clinical handbook to help health care workers provide such care.

Working to end myths and misconceptions about female genital mutilation

A woman social worker (centre) speaks about the dangers of FGM to a girl and her mother at their home, Egypt
UNICEF/Pirozzi
A woman social worker (centre) speaks about the dangers of FGM to a girl and her mother at their home, Egypt

6 February 2018: Today WHO joins individuals, organizations and UN partners worldwide in marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Despite this, a number of myths and misconceptions about FGM persist, which support the perpetuation of this harmful practice.

High-quality healthcare needed for girls and women who have experienced female genital mutilation

6 February 2017: WHO joins individuals and organizations worldwide in marking the International day of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation (FGM). Over 200 million girls and women living worldwide have experienced this harmful practice, and this important event aims to raise awareness of this global problem. On this occasion, a special supplement has been published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (IJGO). The co-authors note that while work to prevent FGM is of key importance, there is an urgent need to reach and support women and girls who have experienced FGM with high-quality healthcare.

New WHO guidelines to improve care for millions living with female genital mutilation

16 May 2016 - Health-care providers across the world need to be prepared to provide care to girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). New guidelines have been launched by WHO to help health-care providers give better care to the more than 200 million girls and women worldwide who live with FGM.

It’s our job as health workers to ‘do no harm’

16 May 2016 - Health workers often face difficult decisions and tough situations. Without the right information and support it can be hard to know what’s the right thing to do. A health-care worker might even be asked – by the patients themselves, or by their family – to perform a procedure which violates human rights and the rights of the child. This is the case when health workers are asked to perform female genital mutilation (FGM), which we refer to as “medicalization” of the practice.

Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation

Mother and father with their young daughthers in front of their home in a village of Sierra Leone.
UNICEF/Asselin

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. In many settings, health care providers perform FGM in the erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized. WHO and other UN partners strongly urge health professionals not to perform such procedures.

fact buffet

PrevalenceIt is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.

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Health risksFGM has no health benefits and is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Fact sheet on FGM

End FGMIncreasingly health-care providers are asked to perform FGM. WHO is strongly opposed to the medicalization of FGM.

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