Posted by: lauraannwilson | February 7, 2015

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation – UN Event: Intensifying Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate the Achievement of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (Live commentary)

Today (6 February 2015) is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

A special panel discussion is underway at Palais des Nations. I am lucky enough to be in attendance. Several panelists are discussing FGM.

The panelists include:

  • Ms Domtila Chesang, Keyan FGM Advocate
  • Dr Jasmine Abdulcadir, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals of Geneva
  • H.E Ambassador Prosper Vokouma, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso
  • H. E Ambassador Slimane Chikh, Permanent Observer of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
  • H. E Stefen Kongstad, Permanent Representative of Norway
  • H. E Ambassador Jean-Marie Ehouzou, Permanent Observer of the African Union
  • H. E Ambassador Maurizio Enrico Serra, Permanent Representative of Italy
  • Dr Lale Say, Coordinator and Senior Adviser, World Health Organization
  • Dr Adebisi Adebayo, Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices

The panelists are discussing zero tolerance of FGM, and that FGM should not be excused or tolerated as a cultural practice. Ms Chesang shared her story of watching her cousin undergo FGM. Ms Chesang said enough talking, more action on preventing FGM, and changing attitudes towards FGM.

Dr Adebayo stated that medical doctors, retired medical doctors and community members carry out FGM. Dr Adebayo stated that doctors often undertake FGM as a result of cultural expectations, community pressures and uncertainty under state laws. Dr Adebayo stated that medical students need to be educated about FGM. Furthermore, community education needs to be stepped up – that community attitudes to FGM need to change, FGM should not be tolerated.

H. E Ambassador Jean-Marie Ehouzou stated that there are currently 19 African countries that have enacted legislation to prohibit FGM, including: South Africa, Togo, Senegal.

H. E Stefen Kongstad stated that it is crucial to bring the ‘reality of FGM to the comfortable meeting rooms of the UN’. Furthermore, that FGM is a violation of human rights, sexual and reproductive health, and the right to life. Mr Kongstad stated that ‘Men have to stand up and say that this (FGM) is not acceptable’. Furthermore, that Geneva does not need more ‘exercises that only serve the Geneva community for looking good…activities in Geneva are only meaningful if they are relevant to activities on the ground’. Furthermore, that FGM dialogue would benefit from ‘going outside the business as usual thinking’, and broader groups need to be engaged with the issue of FGM eradication.

For more information:


  1. I greatly respect the work of these fantastic professionals at the UN. These experts need to be listened to and hopefully their cause reaches further than Geneva.

    This topic is exceptionally sensitive for a myriad of reasons and people standing up for women’s rights in this domain should be commended for their bravery.

    I will do my part by sharing this blog with my personal and professional networks.

    • Thank you for your comments Ian. It is fantastic to hear your thoughts. It is very important to engage men in discussions regarding FGM. Please share among your networks.

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