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Message of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, for International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

[New York, 6 February 2014] Today UN Women joins people around the world in calling for an end to female genital mutilation (FGM). We applaud the thousands of communities that have made public declarations to abandon this harmful practice.

While progress is being made, up to 30 million girls under the age of 15 remain at risk, and some 125 million girls and women have undergone the procedure.

FGM violates the basic rights of women and girls and seriously compromises their health. It poses increased risk of HIV transmission, infection or prolonged bleeding and increased risks during childbirth. It leaves lasting physical and emotional scars.

While the practice of FGM is a tradition in some parts of the world, it cannot be justified on the grounds of religion or culture. It is a violation of human rights and a manifestation of gender inequality.

To end FGM, leadership is needed at every level, from Governments to community and religious leaders, medical professionals and families.

In our work, UN Women is guided by international treaties and agreements, including the UN General Assembly resolution calling for the total elimination of female genital mutilation. To make greater progress, laws need to be enforced, people need to be educated, and communities must be engaged. And girls and women who are at risk, or have undergone the procedure, need support and services.

Today, as we commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation, UN Women calls for intensified efforts to stop the practice in all its forms. We pledge to increase support for efforts to prevent female genital mutilation, and advance gender equality and human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health and to live free of violence and discrimination.

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