International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM: Leaving No One Behind

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been an health issue for generations. We spoke to one organisation looking to put an end to it.

The 6th of February marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The day is observed as a continuous effort toward the elimination of female genital mutilation, which comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights, the health and the integrity of women and girls.

Observing this day, Youth Time will highlight the contribution of the End FGM European Network (End FGM EU), a European umbrella network of 30 organisations working to ensure sustainable European action to end female genital mutilation. End FGM EU is a pioneer in pushing for this issue to be on the European agenda.

Read ahead to learn more on this topic from Anna Widegren, FGM EU’s Director.


2021 Annual Campaign- #EndFGM4All

End FGM EU today is launching the 2021 Annual Campaign on FGM and Intersectionality titled “#EndFGM4All, addressing FGM while leaving no one behind.”

“The Campaign will run until December 2021 and will explore nine monthly themes related to the intersectionality of FGM. Throughout the months we will be sharing resources and organising knowledge-sharing events on the various topics we will be delving into.”

Anna Widegren End FGM European Network
Anna Widegren from End FGM European Network

“This year we reflect on the diversity within affected populations and how this diversity should inform our work. This has led us to start working more actively on intersectionality, a tool to understand how forms of discrimination overlap and reinforce each other.”

Widegren clarifies that Intersectionality means that we cannot fight a form of oppression such as gender-based violence (GBV) without taking in consideration other aspects that can shape the experience of individuals.


Educating the General Public

Widegren continues by saying that this  6th of February, the End FGM European Network reflects on how they can more efficiently tackle the practice of female genital mutilation while remaining in line with our values of centering affected communities.

“After dedicating 2020 to fighting misinformation and myths surrounding FGM, we wish to go deeper in our efforts of educating both the general public and key actors of the movement on what we can do better to address it.”

Aiming to be the driving force in Europe to end FGM, Widegren explains that they work every day to bring together key actors and decision-makers of the European movement against FGM with a commitment to the involvement of grassroots activists.

“Through our platform, we seek to raise awareness on the practice within the EU and beyond as well as uplift the voices of communities.”


COVID-19 Consequences

Over the past seven years, End FGM EU has continuously advocated towards national, European and international decision-makers and stakeholders for a comprehensive and human rights-based approach to eliminating FGM and supporting survivors of the practice in Europe and beyond.

“Thanks to our advocacy expertise, we have contributed to including FGM in a variety of legal and policy instruments in the fields of human rights, gender equality, gender-based violence, children’s rights, asylum and development, and have ensured appropriate funding is allocated for civil society to work towards this aim.”

Moreover, thanks to End FGM EU’s annual thematic campaigns, and to the many events and conferences they have organised over the past years, they have contributed to increasing awareness among the general population in Europe around this issue.

In 2020, it has conducted an internal survey among our Members and Ambassadors around their work in Europe and beyond, including the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls affected by FGM, as well as the impact on organisations working on it.

“This survey has found that the pandemic already had detrimental consequences for women and girls at risk of FGM and its survivors.

“For example, lockdown measures have affected the possibility to detect girls at risk of undergoing FGM due to schools being closed and them staying at home.

“Another consequence is that the disruption of services has impacted the possibility for women and girls to access support, healthcare and protection.”


Youth Ambassadors

Youth are drivers of change, Widegren believes.

“Engaging youth on these issues is essential and we highly value the input and participation of Young people in our work.

“We want to encourage other organisations working on FGM to involve Youth and to that end we have published a Youth Engagement Manifesto presenting five principles for the effective and meaningful engagement of Youth.”

Regarding youth involvement in their work, End FGM EU has a programme with Youth Ambassadors who are young activists from affected communities.

“Throughout the years, our Youth Ambassadors have participated in numerous local and international events and met with European decision-makers to discuss the issues they care about and the change they want to see in the area of GBV. “


Purple Chair

In 2020, End FGM EU launched a series on YouTube called the Purple Chair in which its Youth Ambassadors have created content for other young people to learn more about it and other forms of Gender-Based violence.

Purple Chair Video by End FGM EU Youth Ambassador Hawa War
Purple Chair is supported by FGM EU Youth Ambassador, Hawa War


Looking Back at FGM EU Successes

Through their initiatives, people have an opportunity to be more aware of the importance of ending this problem in general.

Having this in mind, their 2018 annual campaign, #MyIssueToo, is a great example of how End FGM EU is influential in Europe and worldwide also.

“Because it had a broad and long-lasting impact beyond our imagination. The campaign has seen a massive engagement of hundreds of submissions by the general population, as well as over 100 European decision makers.

“These included Members of the European Parliament, as well as high-level stakeholders such as Commissioners, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and members of the Council of Europe, who have taken pictures, made videos based on a script we prepared, worn our t-shirts and use our hashtag online on 6th February 2018.

“Moreover, the key words “My Issue Too” were used in speeches during the Plenary debate of the European Parliament, giving visibility to the long-term advocacy work done by End FGM EU.”

Finally, , Widegren  emphasizes the campaign and the hashtag #MyIssueToo reached also other regions of the world, such as Canada, where in 2019 it was picked up by the newly born End FGM Canada Network and constitutes (up until now!) their main awareness raising motto (#MyIssueTooCanada) to ensure Canadian people and authorities start talking about it there.

If you want to support this organisation financially you can donate here.

“Every donation, however small, is put to good use and supports our work towards ending FGM for all.”

To check out their materials or for the 2021 Campaign #EndFGM4All follow End FGM EU on: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Plenty of organisations are trying to change the world for the better. Last year, we spoke to this group who are doing their best to tackle climate change.

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