The power of education to end female genital mutilation

The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) has proved remarkably tenacious, despite attempts spanning nearly a century to eliminate it. Nevertheless, a number of countries have seen some declines in the practice – at least up until the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of which is yet to be fully understood. Other changes in FGM are also evident. These include shifts in attitudes and in the ways the procedure is being carried out.

As the world rallies to accelerate progress against FGM, understanding what drives change in how people think about the practice and act is key to its elimination. Education is one such driver. It is an important mechanism to increase awareness of the dangers of FGM and of groups that do not practise it. Education also fosters questioning and discussion and provides opportunities for individuals to take on social roles that are not dependent on the practice of FGM for acceptance.

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