International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

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International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
Date 6 February
Next time 6 February 2017 (2017-02-06)
Frequency annual

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is a UN-sponsored awareness day that takes place February 6th each year since 2003. February 6th has been dedicated to the intolerance of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM.) One of the beliefs in support for this day acknowledges that culture is in “constant flux,” and with the concerns begetting FGM being so high-risk, the abolition of such practices must be prompt. This is a movement for the rights of women and their bodies, as well as the protection of their physical health- which can be tremendously affected later in life. These efforts are to benefit actions fighting violence against women and girls as a whole. Every Woman, Every Child (a global movement), reports that “Although primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, FGM is a universal problem and is also practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America. FGM continues to persist amongst immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.” In the United States alone, the recent reports of how many women and young girls are affected by FGM staggeringly tripled in numbers in comparison to the previous reports in 1990. About 120 to 140 million women have been subject to FGM over the years and currently at least 3 million girls are at risk each year, in accord to data presented by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is an effort to make the world aware of female genital mutilation (also called FGM) and to promote its eradication.[1] The World Health Organization has said that "Though the practice has persisted for over a thousand years, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM/C can end in one generation."[2]

Female Genital Mutilation age 0-14.svg
Female Genital Mutilation age 15-49.svg


In 1993, UNICEF was only budgeting $100,000 USD/year for efforts that fight against FGM, which proved insufficient as FGM was affecting more than 100 million girls at the time. Equality Now, an international network of lawyers, activists and supporters that aim to hold governments responsible for ending FGM and other world crisis, launched a “global campaign” calling for increased funding and in response, UNICEF increased its budget to nearly $91 million in efforts towards ending FGM.

On February 6, 2003, Stella Obasanjo, the First Lady of Nigeria and spokesperson for the Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation, made the official declaration on "Zero Tolerance to FGM" in Africa during a conference organized by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC).[3] Then the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights adopted this day as an international awareness day.[4]

Activists: Young female students from Integrate Bristol, including Fahma Mohamed and her colleagues at Bristol, used their resources and voice to protest against FGM in their countries. The young girls went to measures as deep as coming face to face with the ones who cut them, to confronting their fathers/authority, to petitioning using resources such as Change.Org. The United Nations, UN, got involved with this activist event alongside the students and made efforts to make a more permanent recognition and proclamation of zero tolerance for the persisting epidemic of FGM.

In 2014, 17-year-old Bristol student Fahma Mohamed created an online petition with on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, asking Michael Gove, then the education secretary in the United Kingdom, to write to the leaders of all primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom, encouraging them to be alert to the dangers of FGM.[5][6][7] The petition attained more than 230,000 supporters and was one of the fastest growing UK petitions on[7] Michael Gove met with Fahma Mohamed and members of the youth group Integrate Bristol, who have also played a key role in raising awareness of FGM.[7] He also sent a letter to all headteachers in England informing them of new guidelines on children's safety, including guidance on FGM. These new guidelines marked the first time the safeguarding guidelines included specific mention of FGM and encouraged teachers to be vigilant against it.[7]


  1. ^ "Statement on the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation, UNFPA". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  2. ^ "International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation". World Health Organization. Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  3. ^ Bah, Binta (22 February 2012). "Zero Tolerance to FGM Means FGM Should Not Be Tolerated". Daily News. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs. "Commemorating International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  5. ^ Topping, Alexandra (28 February 2014). "Fahma Mohamed: the shy campaigner who fought for FGM education". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Female Genital Mutilation Day". Retrieved 5 February 2015
  7. ^ a b c d "Michael Gove writes to every school in England". Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2015

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