Date of Meeting: 20 March, 2019

Meeting Organizer: UNFPA

ISJC Staff Present: Stephanie Marinelli

Reporter: Stephanie Marinelli

Which SDG does this topic cover? 4, 5, 16

Type of meeting: CSW Side Event - Panel presentation, Video Presentation, Question and Answer

Brief summary of presentation of information made

The meeting began with a video presentation titled “The Day I Became a Women”. For many women, the transition into womanhood is not marked by any positive experience like becoming more independent or graduating college, but instead it is marked by female genital mutilation (FGM).


After the video, Prudence Chaiban, Information Management Specialist from UNFPA, introduced two women who are survivors of Female Genital Mutilation.


Bayor Chantal Ngoltoinger, Student, Writer, and FGM Survivor

  • She is the first woman from Chad to speak about FGM
  • FGM happens to girls aged 0-10 years old, that makes FGM a child issue. If the thought is that FGM makes a girl a woman, this is not possible.
  • This is a crime. It is important to note that girls die from this procedure. Many times, girls bleed so much from the procedure that they die or almost die.
  • This is a health issue
    • Bayor faced a lot of trauma from this event in her life. She was able to go to therapy at age 37 and write a book about her experience
    • It is important for girls to have access to therapy earlier than she did


Maryum Saifee, International Affairs Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations and FGM Survivor

  • She didn’t realise what happened to her until she learned about FGM in an Anthropology class in college.
  • Her aunt performed FGM on her but never explained what happened.
  • Although some religious leaders claim for this to be bound to their religion, but it is not mentioned in any of the religious texts.
  • This is a practice used to control a woman’s sexuality
  • It is NOT equal to circumcision
  • FGM is sometimes used as fodder for other agendas like anti-Muslim and anti-immigration sentiments but it shouldn’t be this way
  • FGM is viewed as a far away issue but this is not the case
    • There was a case in Detroit where nine girls were cut
      • The judge ruled that FGM is not a crime
      • It is necessary to share these stories because people are silent about this issue
  • This is a Human Rights issue, to say it is cultural is just an excuse


Nafissatou Diop, Senior Advisor for the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM

  • She highlighted that this is a global issue and we are missing a lot of data.
  • Data shows that FGM has decreased.
  • Due to the trend of a growing population, there is a need to work extra hard to actually decrease FGM.
  • It is important to use a holistic approach
    • Engaging entire communities
    • Increasing accountability
    • Provide sexual and reproductive health services to respond to the needs of millions of girls and women who have experienced FGM
    • Generate and utilise data to better inform policies and programs
    • Promote girls and women as assets to the cause


Sonja Honig Schough, Past President of Zonta International

  • Zonta is a network that is striving to achieve equality through promoting women’s rights and advocacy.
  • The organisation has been around for almost 100 years.
  • Two issues they focus on are ending violence against women and ending child marriage
    • This is done by teaching children that they can say no to marriage and stay in education system
  • Next steps:
    • Changing/creating laws are not enough
    • Need a commitment from everyone
    • Important not to create laws that suppress families, need laws to help families
    • Education is so important


Nancy Wildfeir-Field, President, Global Business Coalition (GBC) Health – Facilitated Q & A

  • How can business get involved?
    • Figure out how to incorporate existing movements like #MeToo
    • Explain the economic cost of gender-based violence to companies
      • Gender-based violence can potentially affect half of the population, which can also affect a significant amount of Gross Domestic Product
    • Companies have the power of setting the normative framework through marketing. This means that companies can choose to portray different demographics to change what people view as normal.

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

Female genital mutilation is a very serious form of gender-based violence. Unfortunately, we do not speak enough about this human rights violation that affects millions of girls and women. It is powerful to hear firsthand from women who have been harmed by Female Genital Mutilation. As survivors are willing to speak out on this issue, it is important to listen and learn from their experience and also support them. Additionally, it is useful to consider the role of the private sector in the prevention of FGM. There are specific actions that companies can take to work towards a world with less gender-based violence.

Web links for more information - For more information on UNFPA’s involvement on ending FGM

Tags: SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG4: Quality Education, SDG5: Gender Equality