Despite a century of efforts to put an end to female genital mutilation(FGM), more than 125 million girls and women have been cut in almost 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, while an estimated 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030, if current trends continue.
This was disclosed by the United Nations' Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA), Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, at a press briefing, ahead of next week's International Conference on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, organised by UNFPA, UNICEF and Italy, saying millions of girls around the world are still threatened by FGM.
The aim of the conference which will be attended by ministers and other high officials and representatives of civil society from Africa, Europe and other regions, is to consolidate global political commitment, galvanise further national action, and plan specific strategies to build a broad-based movement to end FGM/C in the next generation.
Osotimehin said there had also been other concerted efforts to end FGM/C, while some 60 countries around the world have adopted laws penalizing the practice; 24 African countries, and 12 of the 15 countries in the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C were in this group.
He said that Italy had been a staunch advocate of ending the practice and, along with other European countries, had strongly contributed to the success of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme.
"In addition to generating the much-needed resources essential to strengthen, develop and scale up existing programmes to accelerate FGM/C abandonment, they have played a vital role in strengthening legislation against FGM/C by supporting African parliamentarians in their efforts to end the practice.
"The good news is that these trends can be reversed, and we see encouraging signs of that. Estimates released earlier this year show that, since 2008, when the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C was established, more and more communities have abandoned the practice. In 2012 alone, a total of 1,775 communities across Africa publicly declared their commitment to end FGM/C," he added.