Youth power is the key to end FGM

Francis is a member of Youth For Change Tanzania Team - he explains why it's crucial to recognise the role young people must play in in the fight to end FGM.

This blog was originally published for FGM Everybody's Business, and we've republished it as part of our #WhyZeroFGM series.

Female genital mutilation is an activity that involves the cutting of clitoris of a girl and it is mostly associated with cultural, traditional and religious reasons.

There are so many reasons why young people have to be involved in ending Female Genital Mutilation. One of the reason is, the number of young people in the world is increasing day by day especially in developing countries. Today’s adolescents and youth are 1.8 billion and form a quarter of the world’s population. They are shaping social and economic development, challenging social norms and values, and building the foundation of the world’s future.

Leaving out young people in the fight to end Female Genital Mutilation is leaving out a quarter of the world’s population. This is even against the newly adopted sustainable development goals which encourage participation of everyone in solving the challenges that the world is facing.

It is also vital to engage young people in ending Female Genital Mutilation since they are the first affected by this practice.

This harmful practice is not practiced on adults but on young girls and some societies justify the practice as a symbol of maturity, that for a girl to become a woman she needs to pass through female genital mutilation .

In order to win this fight we have to first educate these young girls to know the risks associated with this harmful practice but also to be aware of where they can run to when they get forced to pass through Female Genital Mutilation.

Young people are very innovative and by involving them they can create projects and campaign to fight against Female Genital Mutilation. Young people can use social media to advocate for the end of Female Genital Mutilation, they can volunteer in organizations that are working toward ending these activities. A good example is Youth For Change, a global youth-led coalition of youth activists working in partnership with organisations and governments to create positive change for girls, boys, young women. Organization that are youth led can play a very significant role in ending Female Genital Mutilation.

Involving young people means giving opportunity to boys to fight for girls rights.

Boys can play a significant role in ending Female Genital Mutilation if their rightly engaged. It is not only women that play a role in the persistent of this culture but also men. In societies that practice female genital mutilation, men are not ready to marry a woman who has not passed through this activity. The bride price for such a woman if she happens to be married is low compared to the bride price of a woman who has passed through female genital mutilation. Men need to know what the impacts of the activity are. It is very important to engage boys and men since in most societies that practice Female Genital Mutilation, men are the heads of the families and they have a voice when it comes to decision making.

One of the main reason Female Genital Mutilation is lingering in societies despite efforts by so many actors is that young people have not been engaged.

This can be due to several reasons such as lacking easy access to national and international platforms but there is also a challenge of young people seen as unproductive and less experienced and lacking knowledge. If we truly need to end Female Genital Mutilation it is more important that the power young people is recognised both in policy and action.

FGM Everybody's Business is a youth-led website that raises awareness about FGM; provides regular comment about UK and global actions to end the practice and provides space for young people to add their voice to the FGM campaign.