23.8 million women and girls in Ethiopia have undergone FGM, making it the country with the second highest number of women and girls affected in Africa.
UNICEF reports from 2013 show significant differences of the rate of FGM in Ethiopia between levels of education and regions.. 92% of FGM cases are carried out by traditional cutters or traditional ‘doctors’, normally older women who are paid a small amount for carrying out the procedure. 5.5% of cases are carried out by traditional birth attendants.
Percentage of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years who have undergone FGM
Political and legal context
- The Ethiopian Government’s Population Policy, Health Policy and Women's Policy all promote abandonment of harmful practices, including FGM.
- In 2004 a national legislation was passed banning FGM in Ethiopia
- In the 1960 Penal Code, there was a prohibition against torture and the cutting off of any body parts. This provision was interpreted by some as prohibiting FGM.
- The revised Penal Code was passed in 2005 – criminalising FGM
- The 1995 Constitution specifically mentions elimination of harmful traditional practices (HTPs) to ensure gender equality.
- Article 9.2 of the Constitution also states that all international treaties ratified by Ethiopia, including those for the elimination of FGM, constitute part of the country’s legal system.
- The Family Law and the Criminal Code have specific articles prohibiting HTP/FGM.
- The Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs works closely with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Health, Education, Judiciary and the police among others to address FGM issues.
- The Ministry of Education has contributed to policy making through the design of sector strategies, as well as integrating FGM and other HTP into these key documents.
- Religious and tribal leaders have started condemning the practices of FGM and other harmful traditional practices abduction publicly.
- One-stop centres to support gender-based violence victims have been established within the premises of Ghandi Hospital, Adama Hospital, and Oromia Regional State hospital.
- The Association for Women Sanctuary and Development is an Ethiopian resident charity association established to advance women’s social and economic development and provide support for women and girls that have faced physical and psychological harm.
- Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association defends women's rights and is working towards changing laws biased against women.
The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme (UNJP) has worked strategically to gain the support and participation of local leaders, including religious leaders, who understand the existing norms, attitudes and social dynamics of the community and can act as agents of change. Such leaders have significant influence and help create a rapid social shift.
Other approaches adopted by UNJP and local and international organisations, include:
- Working with religious leaders to discredit the belief that FGM is a religious obligation.
- Engaging all members of a community in the discussion, including traditional and religious leaders, girls, women and men.
- Informing legislation and policies against the practice, giving additional legitimacy to those committed to ending FGM.
- Enabling community leaders, community services organisations and NGOs to take the lead in advocating for the end of FGM.
Our work in Ethiopia: community leadership is key component to decreasing the prevalence of FGM/C on a large scale. The Girl Generations approach to social change communication takes cognisance of this. In 2016 we begun engaging government ministries and on the ground religious organisations, community based organisation’s and NGO’s to inform programme implementation work beginning 2017 to 2019.
The Key areas of our work will include:
- Galvanising action to grown an Africa-led movement to end of FGM.
- Working directly with the Ethiopian government and key partners to drive social change communication as one of the approaches to end FGM.
- Building capacity of our members and partners to leverage social change communication in their activities and initiatives.
- Advocating and mobilising resources to facilitate and end FGM in Ethiopia.