Number of communities that have publicly engaged to abandon FGC
The number of communities that have made a joint, public pledge to abandon the practice of female genital cutting (FGC).
When the practice is abandoned collectively by a community, it is part of an in-depth process of community mobilization and advocacy starting with education and awareness-raising: people becoming aware of the existence of an alternative to FGC, and valuing the alternative more highly than the practice. With this comes community discussion followed by community
decision. The next step is to publicize community commitment: there needs to be a moment of coordinated and actual abandonment where the greater part of the community publicly resolves to abandon the practice together and monitor adherence to the change (Mackie and LeJeune, 2009). This indicator measures the point at which a community makes that public commitment.
Confirmation that the collective community has publicly declared the abandonment of FGC
Project reports, media reports (e.g. newspaper, radio, television), interviews, special studies
FGC is a powerful social tradition dictated by rewards and punishments which perpetuate the practice. In view of this conventional nature of FGC, it is difficult for families to abandon the practice without support from the wider community. In fact, it is often practiced even when it is known to be harmful to girls because the perceived social benefits of the practice are deemed higher than its disadvantages (WHO et al, 2008).
Putting an end to FGC, like all harmful traditional practices, requires interventions at the individual, community, national and international level. This indicator measures how successful community-level projects have been in reaching community members with educational activities about the practice, supporting dialogue within the community, and ultimately facilitating the community’s own decision-making process manifested in a visible or explicit public declaration of social change.
Initially a core group needs to agree to pursue community abandonment of cutting. But to bring about large-scale, sustained change, more than a handful of people or families must reverse their attitude towards the practice. Since FGC is more likely to be practiced in order to gain acceptance and recognition within one’s own community – as a means of inclusion rather than differentiation – a significant number of families need to collectively agree to stop the practice so that those who wish to abandon FGC can be assured that they will be able to marry their daughters, will not face shame or exclusion, and will not be disadvantaged by the decision (UNICEF, Innocenti Research Center, 2008). In short, the agreement must be collective, explicit, and widespread within the practicing community so that each family will have the confidence that others are also abandoning the practice. In fact, when practicing communities decide on their own to stop FGC, evaluations indicate that the practice can be eliminated rather quickly (WHO et al, 2008).
This indicator measures public acknowledgement to abandon FGC, but does not monitor actual adherence to the pledge. Although joint public promises put at stake people’s resolve and social reputation for keeping commitments, evaluators working in FGC programming may still want to track the communities contributing to this indicator to determine if sustained change has occurred.
female genital cutting (FGC), community, violence
Mackie, G. and LeJeune, J. 2009. Social Dynamics of Abandonment of Harmful Practices: A New Look at the Theory. Innocenti Working Paper, Special Series on Social Norms and Harmful Practices. UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre.
Eliminating female genital mutilation: an interagency statement. UNAIDS,
UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCHR, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, WHO, 2008.
Platform for Action Towards the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). 2008. The Donors Working Group on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre.