Many thanks to UNFPA, UNICEF, IAC, WHO and OHCHR for organizing this event. I would also like to thank the many co-sponsors and my fellow ambassadors present here today.
I hope that the considerable support and high attendance today is testament to an increasing willingness to take action to end female genital mutilation (FGM).
Norway strongly supports the global commitment to eliminate FGM.
Last year, the Norwegian government adopted a four-year action plan to combat negative social control, including FGM. The plan includes operational measures to liberate more children and young people in Norway from negative social control and various forms of coercion.
Successive Norwegian governments have also made the eradication of FGM a key foreign policy priority:
- Norway is a long-standing contributor to the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme.
- We support WHO's crucial efforts to build evidence on a health sector response to FGM.
- And we work with a number of civil society partners in a range of countries to prevent this harmful practice.
Through information campaigns, engagement with law enforcement officers, government officials, health practitioners and religious leaders, these programmes have led to an increased recognition in many communities of FGM as a harmful practice.
We recognize the importance of country leadership and partner support in this work, and commend the tireless efforts by UNFPA, UNICEF and civil society organizations.
At the end of the day, however, our measure of success is whether we actually manage to eradicate FGM.
I am pleased to see many of the organizations involved in the implementation of these programmes present here today. They can themselves speak to the results of their important work.
FGM is a crosscutting issue:
- It constitutes a grave violation of human rights and represents an extreme form of discrimination against women.
- It has serious consequences for women and girls' lives and health, including their sexual and reproductive health. It has no health benefits, but causes only harm.
- And emerging evidence suggests that during humanitarian crises, even more girls are subjected to FGM.
A solution to this problem therefore requires that we work together, across silos and institutional barriers. We must carry out this fight at international, regional, national and local levels. We must work with states, national authorities, politicians, civil society, health professionals and religious leaders to stop this harmful practice. And most importantly, we must empower women and girls.
Today it is exactly 15 years since we first marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. Today’s event provides an opportunity to reflect upon the substantial progress we have made in this area.
But with more than 3 million girls at risk of FGM every year, we should also be honest about our challenges. We need to intensify our efforts to fulfill the promise made in the Agenda for Sustainable Development and end this harmful practice by the end of 2030.