30 October 2014

Secretary-General’s remarks at the launch of The Guardian’s Global Media Campaign to End Female Genital Mutilation

I am delighted to be here at the launch of this Global Media Campaign against female genital mutilation. It recognizes the critical role of media around the world in adding their voices and reach to help end FGM in a generation.

With its anti-FGM campaigns in the United Kingdom, the United States, The Gambia, and now Kenya, The Guardian has demonstrated its commitment to bringing an end to this brutal practice. I commend the Kenyan Government for intensifying its efforts to end FGM.

Change can happen through sustained media attention on the damaging public health consequences of FGM, as well as on the abuse of the rights of hundreds of thousands of women and girls around the world.

In the United Kingdom, where over 20,000 girls are at risk of FGM, activist Fahma Mohamed secured a commitment from the Government to write to all schools warning about the dangers of the practice. I was delighted to be able to meet her even quickly in London earlier this year.

In the United States, where risks are similarly high in certain Diaspora communities, a Guardian campaign led by FGM survivor Jaha Dukereh led the government to promise to carry out the first national survey on FGM prevalence.

In both cases, sustained public pressure -- which media support helped generate -- brought about concrete results.

I look forward to engaging with media outlets across Africa and beyond on how to report on this issue better and draw attention to its devastating impacts.
I am also delighted to announce the launch of two initiatives that will help to support media outlets in Kenya, and across the continent.

A new, joint UNFPA-Guardian International FGM Reporting Award will be granted annually to an African reporter who has demonstrated innovation and commitment in covering FGM.

The competition winner – who will have submitted reportage on FGM – will spend two months training and working in The Guardian’s head offices in London. I’d like to thank The Guardian for your strong initiative and support.

In Kenya, five joint UNFPA-Guardian FGM Reporting Grants will be awarded to a number of the country’s leading media houses to help support their reporting on FGM.

Not only do we hope to support the Kenyan media in bringing the issue of FGM to national and global attention, but we hope to create a media model that can be reproduced in other countries.

We will walk hand in hand with the African-led Girl Generation campaign that is set to roll out across ten countries, reflecting the growing momentum to end this practice – a momentum that cannot be ignored.

The mutilation of girls and women must stop in this generation -- our generation. Men and boys must also be encouraged to support the fight against FGM -- and they should be praised when they do.

The good news is that entire communities in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa and around the world have decided to end FGM. 

This means that girls like Aissatou in Senegal, Mariam in Burkina Faso, Desta in Ethiopia, Samira in Sudan and Hawa in Djibouti, together with their sisters in London and Rome, no longer have to be subjected to this violation of their human rights.

Nancy Tomee, a Pokot girl from Kenya found the courage to say no to FGM when she was 13. Nancy’s courage to resist the practice has changed her life. She graduated from high school this year and is a powerful advocate and role model for other girls.

Ending FGM is part of the UN’s unwavering campaign for the health, human rights and empowerment of women and girls.

We salute the girls and women who have fought against FGM and reclaimed their bodies. We now need them to be the norm rather than the exception.

With your help and with your support, and with this campaign, we will succeed.

And I count on your strong engagement and commitment.

Thank you.