International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt marked the International Day to End FGM (female genital mutilation) on February 6th by announcing an ambition to end the practice by 2030.
Writing for the Evening Standard, Ms Mordaunt set out DFID’s new ambition and highlighting the impact the campaign against FGM has had to date.
The op-ed ran in full on The Evening Standard’s website and the paper carried a news story with a headline on the 2030 pledge on its p4 and 5 spread.
Ms Mordaunt was also interviewed for the ITV News at 10 by international affairs editor Rageh Omaar. She set out how the UK is supporting the growing Africa-led movement to end FGM by 2030.
She also spoke about how globally the rate of FGM is in decline, but warned we cannot afford to be complacent.
The latest statistics from UNFPA suggest that between 2015 and 2030 close to 70 million women and girls are at risk. In the UK, an estimated 24,000 girls are at risk. Only by ending the practice globally, with the help of the UK, will the risk to girls in our own country be completely eliminated.
The full text of The Evening Standard op-ed is below:
For decades, Turutea was the most renowned cutter in the village of Kaworyo in Uganda.
She believed she was keeping her “culture alive”.
But today, now aged 77, she recognises Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for what it is – an extreme violation of girls’ rights, which must be ended once and for all.
No girl, no matter where she lives in the world, should have to suffer such an ordeal. In countries such as Somalia, Guinea and Djibouti as many as 9 out of 10 women have undergone FGM.
Change is already happening in Africa, in countries such as Kenya and Burkina Faso, change led by women such as Turutea.
The generous British public is motivated to act, when it sees injustice, and I am proud that the UK is backing the growing Africa-led movement to end FGM.
The Evening Standard and courageous campaigners should be praised too for their role in helping to end the practice.
DFID is today upping its ambition. Previously, we committed to ending FGM in a generation. Today we are calling on everyone to get behind the global ambition to end FGM by 2030.
We are also, working together with organisations such as Orchid Project, calling on other countries to follow the UK’s lead and support the cause.
In 2013 the UK made the largest ever donor commitment to the Africa-led movement to end FGM, backing efforts across 17 countries. I am proud that UK Aid has supported The Girl Generation to help over 650 grassroots organisations in Africa to join the largest-ever, and still growing, movement to end FGM.
George Weah, the former Chelsea, Manchester City and AC Milan football star and recently elected President of Liberia, has just pledged his support to ending the practice.
But this is not just a problem overseas.
It’s an issue in London too.
NHS statistics show that 5,391 patients were treated in relation to FGM during 2016-17. Almost half (2,560) of these cases relate to women and girls from the London region. Today, over 30 years after the practice was made illegal in the UK, still not a single conviction for FGM has been made. We need to do better.
Whilst most of these are historic cases where the women were not cut in the UK, today an estimated 24,000 girls are at risk in the UK, and only by ending the practice globally, with UK aid invested in the right places, will we eliminate the risk to girls in our country.
While globally the rate of FGM is in decline, we cannot afford to be complacent. There are still going to be more than 30 million women and girls at risk over the next decade in Africa alone.
As International Development Secretary, I am committed to working with governments and campaigners where FGM is prevalent, to eliminate the practice, to support the women and girls, challenging attitudes and practices to build a safer, healthier and more prosperous world.
At home, the UK government is working to ensure that all sectors are working together. While prevention is the priority, we are also ensuring the police response can investigate and prosecute this crime.
Together, we have already broken the silence. By 2030 we can and we will end the practice of FGM, but only if we work together.