I would like to thank UNFPA and UNICEF for organising this important event.
Norway strongly supports the global commitment to eliminate the harmful practice of FGM.
We must not allow these practices to continue. We must empower women and girls. Empowering girls and women is the best investment any society can make. Families, communities, and societies will prosper, economies will grow, and development will become more sustainable. It is also likely that the world will become a more peaceful place.
Even though substantial progress has been made toward ending female genital mutilation, more than 3.6 million girls are still at risk every year.
Recent data also show that the practice is much more widespread than we had thought. FGM is also being practised in Europe, the US and other counties where it previously did not exist.
In addition, emerging evidence suggests that during humanitarian crises, even more girls are subjected to FGM and other harmful practices.
In these contexts, where access to sexual and reproductive health services is minimal, the risk of sexual violence and unwanted pregnancies is also much higher.
FGM is about the right to health – but it is also about other basic human rights. It is rooted in inequality and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. As it is being performed on younger and younger girls, it is also a gross violation of children’s rights.
Some people find sexual and reproductive health and rights too controversial and difficult to talk about. But how can we not talk about it:
- when approximately 120 million girls under the age of 20, or about 1 in 10, have been subjected to sexual violence,
- when teenage pregnancies are the number one cause of mortality for girls aged between 15 and 19,
- and when girls are still forced into early marriages and subjected to female genital mutilation?
Norway wholeheartedly supports the global movement to eliminate FGM. We welcome the global commitment in the 2016 Resolution (Intensifying Effort to eliminate FGM) and in Agenda 2030 (under Goal 5, target 5.3). We recognise the importance of country leadership and partner support, and commend the tireless efforts by UNFPA, UNICEF and civil society organisations.
Successive Norwegian governments have made the issue of FGM a priority, most recently in our new action plan for women’s rights and gender equality. Norway earmarks more than 9 million USD annually for work to eliminate the practice, channelled through the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme and civil society organisations. This is in addition to Norway’s core funding to UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO and IPPF. Norway is also a key partner in humanitarian assistance.
We believe that in order to achieve more, we need to coordinate and integrate our efforts.
Norway is now looking at ways to integrate our efforts to eliminate FGM better within our wider engagement in global education and health.
Norway is committed to this urgent cause. Let us come together and end this practice once and for all.