Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to the high-level event hosted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, held today:
The ripple effects of COVID-19 have created a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women and girls, including harmful practices such as female genital mutilation.
Almost 10 months of school closures have increased the secrecy of the practice of female genital mutilation, as protective mechanisms for women and girls broke down. As an example, more cases were reported in Sudan, and more importantly, in Kenya, a female genital mutilation analysis reported a 121 per cent increase in nine counties in 2020, compared to 2019.
Recent estimates suggest that the impact of the pandemic could result in 2 million additional cases of female genital mutilation by 2030. This is in addition to the 68 million women and girls the United Nations had already projected would be at risk.
Through the Spotlight Initiative and the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme, the United Nations is leading efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation. We are working with Governments, policy makers, faith leaders, women’s groups, youth networks and many others.
Together, we are doing everything we can to turn the tide. In this Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we call on the global community to stand up for the human rights of girls.
Reaching zero female genital mutilation by 2030 is possible. But, we must expand partnerships. We must mobilize resources.
And we must work more systemically to support gender equality and transformative social change. Together, we can give girls the ability to control their own destiny and contribute to a more just, healthy and sustainable world.