Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, observed 6 February:
Female genital mutilation is a gross violation of the human rights of women and girls. Over 200 million women and girls alive today have experienced female genital mutilation in 30 countries across three continents. Without concerted, accelerated action, a further 68 million girls could be subjected to this harmful practice by 2030.
With strong political engagement, we are seeing success in several countries. But this progress is not enough to keep up with population growth. Unless we act now, the number of cases will continue to rise.
Sustainable development cannot be achieved without full respect for the human rights of women and girls. Sustainable Development Goal 5, with a focus on gender equality, calls for the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030.
Together with the European Union, the United Nations has launched the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year undertaking that aims to create strong partnerships and align efforts to end all forms of violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation.
With the dignity, health and well-being of millions of girls at stake, there is no time to waste. Together, we can and must end this harmful practice.