FGM/C is a traditional practice in which part of or the entire external female genitalia is removed. Some communities refer to it as female circumcision (FC). The severe effects of FGM/FGC on the health of girls and women have been widely documented. FGM/FGC results in complications at birth for both mother and child, sometimes leading to death. The practice has strong repercussions on the health of women and on the social, political and economic fabric at individual and community levels.
In recent years, civil service organizations have promoted a holistic understanding of FGM issues and a lot of effort was put in to change the attitudes and behavior of the communities who practised FGM. The role of the youth to speak up against FGM was missing though, but recently, the communities themselves have been speaking up against FGM and its health complications.
At a national level, the Ministry of Religion of Somaliland is participating in the movement to end FGM to save the next generation from FGM and has produced the FATWA declaration. As well as this, the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs, and Family has developed a draft FGM policy together with local NGOs, which is much needed to accelerate approval by the Parliament of Somaliland.
Youth Anti FGM Somaliland is a national movement to end female genital mutilation and catalyze their collective action to reach and influence the youth to end FGM in the next generation.
This movement is for youth, by youth, and they set their own agenda and design their own approach to reach other youth in their spheres of influence to achieve the ending of FGM in one generation. The group also sets out to ensure that Sustainable Development Goal 5:3 and Goal 3 are achieved, which seeks to put to an end to all harmful and traditional practices, including FGM, by 2030.
Youth Anti FGM Somaliland introduces these following elements in order to involve youth :
Building the effective participation of youth and promoting their voice to reach the communities, as it is necessary to build their skills and knowledge on FGM issues.
Academic institutions are where most youth meet, and it is necessary to engage with them to discuss FGM issues
Changing the attitude and behaviors of youth, Youth Anti FGM Somaliland follows strategies to reach its purpose to engage more youth in the education system
Promoting youth dialogues and discussions on FGM issues is needed to attract youth who are unaware of the issues in urban and rural areas
Youth Anti FGM Somaliland has engaged with youth so far in different sectors, using youth platforms and big events, such as Human Rights Day and 16 Days of Activism, and using social media for messages to reach them. Recently, on 6th February, the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, Youth Anti FGM Somaliland started to collect petitions within youth audiences to push forward the law to have legislation against FGM in Somaliland.
Youth Anti FGM Somaliland has created an enabling environment for youth to engage, understand, to share knowledge and to have open dialogues to end FGM in one generation.
In conclusion, youth are the power and in Somaliland, where youth are estimated to be 75% of the population, it is clear that without youth involvement the practice will continue to the next generation. Somaliland has hope and it is the YOUTH who are going to lead the change!!
Author. ZamZam Jama– Member of Youth Anti-FGM Somaliland- Doctor and Media Specialist