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Partnership for FGM/C free Sudan

Changing cultural norms and beliefs need to come from within the community. People who are concerned with an issue as Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) and who are convinced that it is wrong can form a powerful force of change. It is all about how to plant the conviction in people that the change is necessary – a law only cannot do that” says Igbal Mohamed Abbas, Founder of the Family and Child Friendship Association .

UNFPA in partnership with UNICEF and WHO initiated a programme for a Sudan free from FGM.The business case of the programme, was submitted by a joint proposal of UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO.

The planned partnership between, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO will challenge the status quo of conventional approaches and bring together the technical experience and global lessons learned of the three UN agencies. This programme would simultaneously target institutional and cultural drivers of FGM/C, and thereby make a profound shift in collective consciousness with respect to norms and behavior. A systematic approach to FGM/C abandonment that builds on the positive cultural values will provide the conducive environments for propelling change at individual, family, community and institutional levels.

The programme will address both care and prevention in response to FGM/C. Care is seen as an essential component, on one hand, to rectify the glaring absence of a mainstream response to this massive public health issue within the health sector. On the other, care for women affected by FGM/C provides an opportunity to address the social norms around this issue. For example, women refusing re-infibulation after delivery would be more likely to keep their daughters intact.

The strategic vision is to simultaneously target institutional enabling factors of FGM/C, such as legislative and policy frameworks, and the root drivers of the traditional harmful practice. A systemic approach leaves no stone unturned and a systemic approach cannot be accomplished without the active engagement and ownership of the Health, Education, Welfare and Justice sectors. Availability and strengthening of reliable data on prevalence, incidence, attitudes and beliefs is the key to connecting the links between government actions and community behaviors.

This vision maximizes the comparative advantages of the three Agencies; and gives emphasis to innovative social marketing tools, and to eliciting a shift amongst practitioners and health service providers (including midwives and medical professionals) to act as catalysts for change in keeping girls and women intact and healthy. The path to FGM/C abandonment in Sudan must be forged from and propelled by the Sudanese people, with support from UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO.

The time frame for this DFID supported project is five years with a total budget of GBP 12,000,000