The United States joins the international community in observing the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and recommits to ending this grave human rights abuse. The United States recognizes that gender equality and girls’ empowerment are not achievable without prioritizing gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response. For millions of girls around the world, this means we must act to eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).
While girls today are one-third less likely to be subjected to FGM/C compared to three decades ago, the United Nations estimates that progress needs to be at least 10 times faster to meet the global target of FGM/C elimination by 2030. Efforts to eliminate FGM/C are more pressing than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased girls’ risk of being subjected to the practice.
The United States is committed to preventing and responding to all forms of GBV, including FGM/C. The U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality highlights the elimination of GBV as a core strategic priority and calls for efforts to advance legislation that outlaws FGM/C and ensures access to comprehensive services for survivors. This year, we will release the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan to End GBV and an update to the 2016 U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to GBV Globally, which will drive our comprehensive response to GBV at home and around the world. In the global context, the United States was proud to co-host the annual FGM/C Donor Working Group meeting with the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM in December 2021. Domestically, we continue to implement the Strengthening the Opposition to Female Genital Mutilation Act (STOP FGM Act), signed into law in January 2021, which increased the statutory maximum term of imprisonment for violating the law from five to 10 years and ensures that domestic violations of FGM/C can be prosecuted in federal court.
The human rights of women and girls – including the right to live free from violence and to have the opportunity to realize their full potential – must be protected and upheld. The United States stands firm in its longstanding commitment to ending this egregious human rights abuse and in supporting survivors and those at-risk of FGM/C, both at home and around the world, to ensure that no girl or woman is ever left behind.