Liberia: Women Group Acknowledges Fight against FGM



— Calls for joint efforts; as traditional leaders finally ban FGM

Nelly S. Cooper, executive director of the West Point Women for Health and Development Organization (WPWHDO), has acknowledged the government for the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Cooper made the acknowledgment on February 6, at the celebration of this year's International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), when the government announced the official closure of FGM activities in Montserrado County.

It was observed under the theme: “Partnership with Men and Boys to Transform Social and Gender Norms to End Female Genital Mutilation.

She said, “We want to acknowledge that the fight against FGM is not an easy thing, as such it requires a collective effort from other stakeholders, especially men in general.

“When we are talking about all of these things, people feel it has ended but it is important to continue to educate our people because the more we educate them the better we all will get rid of it in Liberia.”

Cooper stated that the fight against FGM is not an easy thing and as such, it will require a collective effort and continued support from international partners.

She revealed that FGM is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but there's no medical reason for this to be done. It's also known as female circumcision or cutting.

Cooper, however, said: “We want to end FGM and that is the reason why we have gathered everyone here, especially our men. we want the men to join us in this fight.” 

She emphasized that culture doesn’t force people but people or have the tendency of forcing others to join theirs which, in her mind, is totally wrong.

She added that FGM is a human right issue as such it must be addressed by all stakeholders. 

For his part, Jeneka Kiadii, resident of Clara Town Community, said: “We are here to support you and to encourage those who see this as a way of life, which they must know that there are alternatives other than that out there, better than FGM, that you can use to help our girls grow up.”

It can be recalled that the UN General Assembly designated February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, with the aim to amplify and direct the efforts on the elimination of this practice. 

In Liberia, FGM is practiced predominantly within certain Muslim societies, but it also exists within some adjacent Christian and animist groups. It denies sexual pleasure, orgasm and satisfaction to millions of women as it is presumed to take away excessive libido, the sexual instinct or erotic desire and pleasure. 

Since the United Nations declared FGM a human rights violation, the practice of it in Liberia is not banned, but has been subject to moratoriums by presidential executive order. With eight years remaining in this decade of action, there is potential in eliminating this harmful practice through sustainable partnerships with men and boys. 

Although the practice has been around for more centuries, there are reasons to think that FGM could end in a single generation. That is why the United Nations strives for its full eradication by 2030. 

Over 200 million women and girls alive today have experienced female genital mutilation. In 2023, an estimated 4.2 million girls are at risk of being subjected to female FGM. 

UNFPA estimates show COVID-19-related disruptions to programming could enable 2 million more cases of FGM to occur over the next decade unless concerted and accelerated action is taken. 

Meanwhile, the day-long event was supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation.