International Day of Zero Tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Eradicating FGM continues to be a key policy priority for Norway. On the 6th of February, Ambassador Hans Brattskar, Norway’s Permanent Representative to the UN, opened the session of the 16th  “International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation” at the United Nations in Geneva.

The event was organised by the IAC, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN WOMEN, WHO and OHCHR with support from. Norway, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, the EU and UN Women.


Opening statement delivered on the 6th of February by Ambassador Hans Brattskar, Permanent Representative of Norway, highlighting the 15th Anniversary of the International Day for Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation

Thank you for inviting me to say a few words, and thank you, Your Excellency Madame Kaboré, for your timely remarks.

I would like to start by recognising the efforts by the numerous individuals, networks and organisations that work tirelessly at the forefront of the campaign to end FGM. Fatoumata Bagayoko, the dancer and activist we just saw in this moving and powerful film clip, has a crucial role as educator and spokeswoman in her community.

Individual testimonials and adapted methods of conveying a message, using theatre and dance, as we saw in the video from Mali, give a face to affected women and girls. It also highlights national initiatives that have a real impact at the grass-roots level.

So, what is Norway doing to have an impact?

Norway has long been an advocate for placing FGM on the international agenda.

FGM elimination remains a priority in our development cooperation.

We are a consistent partner and contributor to the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme and WHO's efforts to build evidence on a health sector response to FGM.

And – importantly, we work with civil society partners on prevention.

A study published in Norway today[i] looks critically at how we have implemented our strategy on FGM. I am glad that it concludes that indeed we have been able to make a meaningful contribution to end FGM. Yet the road ahead is long.

The fact that the absolute number of girls at risk of FGM is projected to increase, clearly tells us that we must continue our efforts. We must do better. We must work faster.

How do we do that?

Difficult issues, seen as taboos, are hard to overcome – precisely because we do not talk about them. When someone dares to speak openly, dares to speak out, is when we can begin to make a difference, and begin to tackle the challenge.

This was the case with FGM also in my home country. A few champions led the way. From being a non-issue, FGM became a matter increasingly discussed.

It gained attention and eventually made it into our policies and programmes, into budget lines and action plans. Which in turn has helped our joint efforts globally to ensure that – hopefully in the near future – no single girl will experience FGM.

We will continue to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance with vigour - and with a view to how we can improve efforts – until the day we have zero instances of FGM!

Thank you for joining us in this effort, for coming here today – let us continue to support, politically, financially and morally, the brave and tireless individuals, who continue to speak up on the horrific and urgent issue of FGM.