Research Publication

Putting data at the centre to End FGM: Ruminations during the 16 Days of Activism

UNFPA estimates that over 2 million additional cases of FGM that could have been averted will occur in the next decade due to COVID-19 related programme disruptions. Nonetheless, national, regional and global actions to address the burgeoning COVID health crisis have led to shifts in focus and funding, with negative repercussions for progress in the FGM field. School and business closures and lockdown measures to limit movement have increased the vulnerabilities of women and girls, especially in marginalised communities with limited access to services. As the crisis has grown and evolved, its negative consequences for countries’ economic and social health have placed a spotlight on the importance of ensuring that increasingly limited resources are invested in programmes that we know can have an impact. The intense and immediate disruptions that the pandemic has engendered within households and communities re-emphasise the need to rapidly assess changes as they occur, such that programmes can adapt their approaches in direct response to these ongoing shifts.

In this unique and rapidly changing context, a number of pertinent questions for those working to end FGM arise: How can we understand and address sociocultural, gender, and behavioral norm change quickly and effectively? How can we rapidly assess where and how change is happening? What tools, methods and capacities are necessary for gathering timely, relevant data and evidence that can accurately inform programmes on where to steer their efforts? And, finally, how do we ensure that the evidence generated informs investment in impactful programs? With funding from FCDO, our two interconnected consortia (the ‘Technical Support’ and ‘Data and Measurement’ components of the Support to the Africa Led Movement to End FGM programme) are working closely together to address these questions, and, by so doing, achieve a significant reduction in the practice of FGM by 2025.

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