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Kwara restates commitments to eradicating Female Genital Mutilation

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The Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has reiterated the State’s commitment to eradicating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), disclosing that the Violence Against Persons bill has been implemented in the State.

AbdulRazaq stated this at the commemoration of the 2024 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and unveiling of the State-led Plan of Action to End Female Genital Mutilation, which took place at Princess Luxury Hotel, Ilorin, in collaboration with the UNICEF.

While commending the UNICEF Country Representative, Mrs. Christian Munduate for visiting Kwara State, the governor stressed that the state government is ready to eliminate the practice of FGM.

In her keynote address, the First Lady, Amb. Prof. Olufolake AbdulRazaq disclosed that with a total of 19.9 million women, Nigeria is listed as having the world’s third highest number of females, who have experienced Female Genital Mutilation.

The First Lady said that the leadership of women and girls is key to accelerating progress as well as contributing to equitable social and economic development, adding that the Kwara State Government signed into law the 35% gender inclusion bill, while constantly supporting women development and inclusion in all spheres.

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She explained further that the government, under the leadership of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq CON, is leaving no stone unturned at ensuring that the untoward trend is reversed.

“This is evident in the implementation and promulgation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and other existing protective laws to combat concerns relating to Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriage and other such concerns while actively promoting the dignity of every child, girl and woman in the State”, the First Lady noted.

According to her, “my office and the Ajike People Support Centre have trained and provided work tools to several thousands of women and youths in the vocations of their choice.

“We have also led advocacies to end all forms of gender based violence, support girl-child and indeed all children education and encourage healthy maternal and child nutrition, among others”, she said.

The First Lady, who is also the Chairperson of the Kwara Committee on Sexual and Gender Based Violence revealed that the Committee had engaged traditional and religious leaders with a view to ending all acts and practices inimical to the growth and development of women and girls, irrespective of how remote their communities are.

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Earlier in her welcome address, the Kwara State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Abosede Olaitan Buraimoh said that three million girls are annually at risk of Female Genital Mutilation which is a harmful traditional practice that scars the girls for life.

Hon. Buraimoh stressed that FGM has no health benefits and can lead to immediate health risks as well as having long term complications to women’s physical, mental, and sexual health and well-being.

She reiterated the state government’s commitment to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to eradicate the trend of FGM.

The Kwara State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Amina Ahmed El-Imam said FGM causes infections, which include: pelvic inflammatory diseases and other fertility problems in female children.

She mentioned that the government would keep offering healthcare and solidarity to victims of FGM.

The Balogun Alanamu of Ilorin, Dr. Usman Atolagbe, who represented the Emir of Ilorin, pointed out that the traditional leader supports the eradication of FGM.

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“We educate people through advocacy, which is for the benefit of the female child”, he said.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Mrs. Christian Munduate, claimed that more than 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone Female Genital Mutilation, saying Nigeria accounts for 10% of the figure estimated at 19.9 million.

Mrs. Munduate said that despite a slight decrease in prevalence of FGM in the country, recent data shows the practice remains widespread in Kwara.

She noted that It is heartening to witness tangible action on the ground following the Governors’ Spouses Forum and UNICEF Partnership Compact to end Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation initiated in December, 2023.

Mrs. Munduate explained that prevalence is highest among women aged 15-49, reaching 58% and for 0-14 age bracket, it stands at 35%, this means approximately 1 in every 3 girls experienced Female Genital Mutilation.

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“We must act with a collective commitment to change to address this issue comprehensively. UNICEF, along with our sister Agency, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), have co-led the largest global programme on the elimination of FGM aligning with the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In Nigeria, a UN Joint Programme, initiated in 2014 in high prevalence states, is expanding to other areas with the practice. This demonstrated our commitment to eliminating FGM”, she added.

She implored the public to join hands, amplify these voices and invest in the movements led by survivors.

One of the students at the occasion, Omolola Adegbite, pleaded that FGM needed to be abolished in the State and Nigeria at large, identifying the programme as a great enlightenment and called for awareness creation in order to end FGM.

The event had in attendance students from schools across the State, traditional and religious leaders, and top government officials.

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