Evidence to End FGM/C: Research to Help Girls and Women Thrive

A Population Council-led research consortium which generates quality evidence to accelerate abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in different contexts.

The Issue

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a harmful practice that involves cutting, removing, and sometimes sewing up external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. While considered a social norm in many cultures, FGM/C is a violation of the rights of girls and women and has no health benefits. It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM/C around the world, and approximately 3.6 million girls are cut each year.

Despite intensified efforts to eliminate FGM/C since a General Assembly Resolution in 2012, critical evidence gaps have hindered a comprehensive, evidence-based response. Such gaps include:

  • Historically low levels of funding for FGM/C research
  • Limited and poor-quality monitoring and evaluation of FGM/C interventions
  • Context-specific findings and data quality limitations that make generalisation difficult
  • Lack of theory-based interventions
  • A limited number of Africa-based researchers able to respond to FGM/C evidence needs
  • Fragmented documentation of evidence for policy and programming

The Progress

The Evidence to End FGM/C: Research to Help Girls and Women Thrive project is an African-led research consortium generating high-quality evidence to influence strategic investment, policy, and programmes to eliminate FGM/C. This five-year project works in seven African countries – Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan – to dramatically expand the body of high-quality evidence on the most effective approaches to ending FGM/C in different contexts.

The research programme is organized around four themes:

  1. Building the evidence base of where, when, and why FGM/C is practiced through explanatory analyses of existing survey datasets and qualitative studies among various populations at different stages of abandoning the practice.
  2. Assessing a range of interventions to address FGM/C abandonment that utilize a blend of retrospective evaluations, case studies of ongoing interventions, prospective implementation research, impact evaluations and cost analyses. Multi-site implementation studies will help generalize findings.
  3. Understanding the wider impacts of FGM/C on the lives of girls, women, and their families, and the implications of abandoning the practice—as well as other harmful practices such as early marriage and gender-based violence—on gender norms and relations.
  4. Improving research into FGM/C by:
    • ​​Addressing the challenges of ethically and accurately measuring prevalence and FGM/C status
    • Improving definition and measurement of social norms and norms changes
    • Enhancing the application of "theory of change" to research and to informing programming and evaluation designs on FGM/C abandonment
    • Increasing the rigour, relevance and utlity of scientific descriptions of FGM/C interventions and their evaluation

The Impact

Through high-quality research and creation of a vibrant South-North research consortium, the project addresses the most important challenges in measuring FGM/C and abandonment interventions. The resulting body of knowledge and evidence will help shape FGM/C investments, policies, and programmes to be more impactful and scalable. The consortium aims to improve the capacity of national, regional, and global stakeholders to engage with and respond to the FGM/C evidence needs. 

Through its complementary relationship with the UNFPA-UNICEF’s Joint Programme on FGM/C: Accelerating Change and the Girl Generation, this project will directly support country programmes with needed evidence and support the ambitious goal of ending FGM/C within a generation.

Principal Investigator

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Journal Articles (6)

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Research Publications (30)

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Curricula, Toolkits, and Guides (1)

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