Magfira Kemsur (L) and Mekiya Mude (R) are best friends. When Magfira knew that Mekiya was about to get circumcised, she alerted the authorities and they intervened. Mekiya says her best friend is her rescuer.

Zonta International's statement on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation/cutting comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights, health and integrity of girls and women.

Complications from female genital mutilation (FGM) include severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for sexual, reproductive and mental health.

"Female genital mutilation is a severe human rights violation that must not be tolerated," said Zonta International President Sharon Langenbeck. "Zonta International remains committed to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end the practice by 2030."

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation seeks to amplify and direct the efforts on the elimination of this practice. This year's theme is "No Time for Global Inaction, Unite, Fund, and Act to End Female Genital Mutilation."

Many countries are experiencing a "crisis within a crisis" due to the pandemic, including an increase in female genital mutilations. UNFPA estimates an additional 2 million girls will be at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation by 2030.

According to the United Nations, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed to promote the elimination of female genital mutilation, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights, gender equality, sexual education and attention to the needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.

Though Zonta International does not currently support any projects directly related to female genital mutilation, we are committed to ending violence against women and girls in all forms, around the world.

Last year, the Zonta USA Caucus supported the STOP FGM Act of 2020 and asked its advocates to contact their legislators to pass the law. Though the practice was already outlawed in the United States, the language needed to be tightened. On 5 January 2021, it became law; it will empower federal authorities to prosecute people who carry out or conspire to carry out female genital mutilation in the United States and increases the maximum prison sentence from five to 10 years.

Zonta International invites clubs and members to advocate locally and internationally for the banning of female genital mutilation. Share with the world how you #Act2EndFGM by being part of the online conversation and participating in social media using the UN's materials.