Percent of people who do not support the continuation of FGM

Percent of people who do not support the continuation of FGM

Percent of people who do not support the continuation of FGM


“Continuation” refers to the perpetuation of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). This indicator shows whether people support or oppose continuing FGM. It helps assess how much the community accepts this practice.

This indicator is calculated as:

(# of respondents opposing the continuation of FGM/ Total # surveyed respondents) x 100

Data Requirement:

Response to question(s) on survey, such as:

  • Do you think FGM should continue? (yes/no)
  • Do you support the continuation of FGM? (yes/no)
  • Do you think that FGM should be continued or discontinued? (continued/discontinued)

Large-scale representative survey such as the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), or other.

The question “Do you support the continuation of FGM?” (yes/no) provides a useful indicator of public acceptance of FGM in a given country. Evaluators can ask it of all respondents, male or female, in a survey, and can present the responses separately for men and women. Another question, “Do you think that female genital mutilation should be continued, or should it be discontinued?”(from the DHS module on FGM) can also be used.

Responses to these items from representative surveys of the population serve two purposes: (1) they indicate the beliefs that public information campaigns must ad­dress the elimination of this practice, and (2) they serve as “markers of progress” if data are available over two or more surveys.

Evaluators may encounter social desirability bias with this indicator, with more respondents saying they oppose FGM because they are aware of the disapproval of the practice in their country or community and not because they personally believe it should be discontinued. Also, because FGM is deeply rooted in tradition, even women who oppose the continuation of the practice may be unable to act on their belief with their own daughters because of strong social pressure to conform to the norms of their family or community.

Any effort to abolish the practice must consider beliefs that members of the target population widely hold. The DHS module on FGM allows for the measurement of specific beliefs about the continuation of FGM. Other sources cite the same beliefs in slightly different terms. For evaluation purposes, one can track changes in attitude regarding FGM through population-based surveys.

FGM is a traditional practice whose basis is to control female sexuality and to make a woman “marriageable.”  Although FGM violates the human rights of women and girls, women may be as likely as men to support the continuation of the practice as long as they believe the myths perpetuated to support the practice (e.g., that uncut women are “unclean”, cannot give birth, and are promiscuous). Many anti-FGM groups are now trying to reach men, women, boys, and girls with information that counteracts the myths with facts, exposes the health risks, and fosters an under­standing of gender equity and human rights.

Similar Indicator: 

A version of this indicator can be assessed with qualitative methods such as focus group discussions or hypothetical vignettes to understand pathways to change and track change over time.

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