Norwegian Government increases efforts to combat child marriage, female genital mutilation and gender-selective abortion (son preference)

‘Harmful practices, such as child marriage, female genital mutilation and gender-selective abortion or son preference, are violations of human rights and discriminate against women. We have to intensify our efforts if we are to reach the goal of ending harmful practices by 2030. This is why the Government is now increasing its funding for the fight against harmful practices by NOK 44 million,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.

Norway will provide a total of NOK 110 million to the UN’s efforts to combat harmful practices in 2019. This funding will be used to prevent child marriage, female genital mutilation and gender-selective abortion (son preference). This is the first time that Norway is supporting efforts to end gender-selective abortion. Norway is also supporting the efforts of NGOs to end harmful practices.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 12 million girls under the age of 18 are married off. Child marriage is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that around 4 million girls are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) every year. FGM is most common in the western, eastern and northeastern parts of Africa.

‘In several of the meetings I had in Uganda and DR Congo last week, I underlined the need to step up efforts to combat harmful practices. While I was in Uganda, I visited a clinic in a refugee camp, where I learnt more about the tragic consequences of child marriage. Child marriage and female genital mutilation have serious, long-term consequences not only for the girls concerned, but also for their communities,’ said Mr Ulstein.

Harmful practices are deeply rooted in social conditions, such as inequality and poverty, and are entwined in culture and tradition. In countries where harmful practices are common, women and girls are considered to have lower cultural and economic value than men and boys. This is the reason for gender-selective abortion, the practice of aborting female foetuses. In many countries, this practice has resulted in a significant shortage of women. This year, Norway is supporting the UN’s work to combat gender-selective abortion for the first time.                        

‘Changing traditions requires a long-term effort in a wide range of areas. In order to ensure that our engagement is as effective as possible, I have initiated work on a new strategy for Norway’s efforts to combat harmful practices. The strategy will be launched in the second half of this year,’ said Mr Ulstein.