A record-breaking aid donation by the UK government will be used to help nurses, midwives and doctors end the practice of female genital mutilation in Africa by 2030.
International development secretary Penny Mordaunt has today committed an additional £50m – the largest ever investment of its kind – to tackle the issue in the most affected countries across the continent.
“Inspirational, courageous African women are leading efforts to end the practice in their own countries”
Ms Mordaunt’s department has pledged to partner with governments to get laws in place banning FGM; work with religious leaders to call for an end to FGM and dispel the myth that it is a religious practice; and support doctors, midwives and nurses to help prevent the act taking place and care for survivors.
The government claims UK aid is already helping to make a positive change in Sudan, where prevalence of FGM is high at 87%.
But thanks to support from this country, social acceptance of FGM has fallen an estimated 18% in Sudan in the last two years, data shows.
Six out of 18 states have passed legislation against FGM and the Sudanese Midwifery Council has brought in new rules to ban midwives from carrying out FGM.
The cash will also focus on bolstering the movement led by grassroots activists and campaigners in Africa.
The ultimate aim is to change the perception of FGM in every corner of Africa from an “unquestioned norm” to a “harmful practice”, leading to FGM being completely abolished by 2030.
“Somewhere in the world, every seven seconds, a girl is at risk of FGM,” Ms Mordaunt said.
“Inspirational, courageous African women are leading efforts to end the practice in their own countries, and thanks to them, more communities are starting to abandon the practice.
“But progress is at a critical juncture and we must work to protect the millions of girls that are still at risk of being cut.”
Ms Mordaunt added that it would be impossible to end FGM in the UK without stopping it globally.
Latest figures from NHS Digital show 1,675 individual women and girls who had undergone FGM visited a health service in England between April 2018 to June 2018. Of those, 1,015 were newly recorded.
Last month, Janet Fyle, policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, spoke to Nursing Times about the key roles midwives play in preventing FGM.
Since 2013, programmes supported by the UK have helped more than 8,000 communities, representing 24.5 million people, pledge to abandon FGM.
They have also led to the practice being made illegal in Gambia, Nigeria, Mauritania and laws being strengthened in Burkina Faso, Egypt and Uganda.
More than three million girls and women have also been able to receive FGM protection and care services.