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About the Campaign

More than 200 million women and girls around the world live with the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation. ©UNFPA Somalia/Tobin Jones

Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Those subjected to FGM are at risk of infection, birth complications, haemorrhage and even death. They are also vulnerable to early marriage, dropping out of school, mental health disorders and reduced opportunities for growth, development and sustainable incomes.

According to the 2020 Somali Health and Demographic Survey, 99 per cent of women 15 - 49 in Somalia have been subjected to female genital mutilation, the majority between ages five and nine. The survey also reports that 72 per cent of women believe it is an Islamic requirement, though some religious leaders have said Islam condemns it. Recent estimates indicate that more than 2.1 million girls in Somalia are at risk of FGM between 2015 - 2030.

In Somalia, social drivers and root causes of FGM stem from gender inequality, including a desire to control female sexuality, support for religious narratives, limited access to education and economic opportunities for girls and women and assurance of girls' or women's social status, chastity or marriageability. The practice has persisted as a result of beliefs that uncut women and girls are promiscuous, unclean and physically undesirable.


Ending harmful practices

Everyone can make a pledge to join the fight in ending Female Genital Mutilation.

In 2021, UNFPA and the Ifrah Foundation launched the Dear Daughter campaign, a pledging campaign calling for the end of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Somalia and around the world. Rooted in the principle of personal empowerment, the campaign invited parents and guardians to pledge not to cut their daughters and protect them from the negative consequences of the practice. Women in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu also learned about the harmful effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) and shared their personal experiences during workshops.

"[The campaign] is accelerating the voices of women and men alike to end FGM in Somalia." 

—Nkiru I. Igbokwe, Gender-Based Violence Specialist, UNFPA Somalia

The campaign also continuously inspires others—whether they are based in Somalia or not—to make a pledge to join the global campaign to end FGM through the website, while promoting the end of FGM in Somalia and beyond. 

Our three-pillar approach to end FGM

100 mothers in Somalia pledge to protect their daughters against female genital mutilation for the Dear Daughter campaign. ©UNFPA Somalia/Tobin Jones

UNFPA and the Ifrah Foundation support a three-pillar approach to the elimination of FGM:

  • ADVOCACY: Buy-in and pledges from key influencers and decision makers, including political and religious leaders.
  • MEDIA AWARENESS: Media initiatives to amplify both the message of the elimination of FGM and advocacy and community empowerment efforts.
  • COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT: Engagement with community organizations and education and health providers to reach individual practitioners, parents and guardians to encourage pledging.

Learn more about our work on ending Female Genital Mutilation.