International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2022: History, theme and significance


The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is observed on 6 February to create awareness about ending the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). The day has been marked since 2012 by the United Nations (UN).

The day highlights that systematic global efforts are needed to end the practice of FGM. The day also draw attention to that more efforts are needed to shape a world that respects women's autonomy, integrity and well-being.

What is female genital mutilation?
FGM comprises of “all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons”, according to the UN. The practice is has been termed as violation of human rights, as well as the integrity and health of women and girls, by the global body.

Female genital mutilation is primarily concentrated in 30 countries in the Middle East and Africa, but it is also practiced in parts of Asia and Latin America. The practice is also followed in immigrant populations living in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America. According to the UN, there are about 4.2 million girls globally who are at risk of undergoing FGM in 2022 alone.

While the practice of FGM has been around for thousands of years, the efforts to end it have intensified in recent decades.  The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), along with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), began the largest global programme to end female genital mutilation in 2008. The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was started in 2012, to create more awareness about the practice and increase pressure on communities and cultures to stop FGM.

This year, the theme of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, is “"Accelerating Investment to End Female Genital Mutilation." The theme has been chosen as many countries are experiencing increased cases of FGM due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Globally, about one in four women and girls, or 52 million, have undergone female genital mutilation performed by healthcare professionals, indicating an increase in medicalisation of the process. FGM results in short-term consequences for girls or women, such as shock, infections, excessive bleeding, severe pain and difficulty in passing urine. The practice also has long-term effects on their sexual and reproductive health.

The practice was called a “flagrant manifestation of gender inequality” by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in this year’s message on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. Gueterres called for accelerated investment by member nations to stop the practice of FGM.

He added that eliminating the practice of FGM will uphold the human rights of all girls and women. The UN has pledged to end FGM by 2030 under its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

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International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2022: History, theme and significance
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2022: History, theme and significance
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