However, progress is being made. For instance, thanks to an EU project with UNICEF in Senegal, over 5,300 communities have abandoned the practice in just under a decade, bringing the country close to becoming the first in the world to declare total abandonment, expected by 2015.
The EU has been working on the abandonment of social norms harmful to girls and women. The EU has supported families, communities and countries to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage. Some of the actions carried out include educational campaigns aiming at raising awareness of the risks of FGM/C and stimulating public discussion and debate on the practice.
This UNICEF project contributed to helping to save thousands of girls from female genital mutilation in five African countries: Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Senegal and Sudan. Senegal is, in fact, close to becoming the first country in the world to declare the commitment of its population to total abandonment of FGM/C. In Egypt, the number of families declaring abandonment of FGM/C increased from 3,000 in 2007 to almost 18,000 in 2011.
At the same time, the percentage of men and boys who think that the practice should continue to exist is declining, especially in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, demonstrating that those campaigns are giving their first results.
EU’s commitment will continue in the future with all the instruments we have at our disposal: political dialogue with our partner countries but also with local actors and local communities, to step up the progress towards the total abandonment of FGM and make sure that this practice disappears for once and for all.