Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, observed today:
Over 200 million girls and women alive today have suffered female genital mutilation, a horrific and harmful practice that can lead to physical, mental and sexual health complications. This year, more than 4 million girls are at risk.
Female genital mutilation is a blatant manifestation of gender inequality that is deeply entrenched in social, economic and political structures. It is also a human rights violation and an extreme form of violence against girls. Fortunately, between 2000 and 2018, the prevalence of this practice has decreased by 25 per cent.
However, even one mutilation is one too many. This year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation highlights the power of young people to make their voices heard. We must amplify those voices and help them to advocate for change and for their rights.
Together, we can eliminate female genital mutilation by 2030. Doing so will have a positive ripple effect on the health, education and economic advancement of girls and women. As the United Nations embarks on a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, let’s make this the decade of zero female genital mutilation.