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Each year, 6 February marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The day is observed as a way to raise awareness about female genital mutilation (FGM), and to galvanize support to end the practice. Learn more about the issue below, and find out how Uwezo Pamoja is working with communities and governments to help eliminate FGM worldwide.

What is female genital mutilation?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure performed on a woman or girl to alter or injure her genitalia for non-medical reasons. It most often involves the partial or total removal of her external genitalia. In some communities, FGM may be commonly referred to as ‘female circumcision’. However this term has been criticized as it can normalize the practice by drawing parallels with male circumcision without distinguishing its serious physical and psychological harm.

Why is it practiced?

In many of the countries where female genital mutilation is performed, it is a deeply entrenched social norm rooted in gender inequality. The reasons behind the practice vary. In some cases, it is seen as a rite of passage into womanhood, while others see it as a way to suppress a woman’s sexuality. Many communities practice genital mutilation in the belief that it will ensure a girl's proper upbringing, future marriage or family honour. Some also associate it with religious beliefs, although no religious scriptures require it.