Statement by the President on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
Thirteen years ago tomorrow, four first ladies in Africa came together and declared an International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). They knew that by targeting and holding back girls, this practice harms and holds back entire communities. Since then, countless others--from the Middle East to South Asia to here in the United States--have joined these women to say that FGM/C has no place in any community and undermines our efforts to celebrate and empower women and girls.
Some people say that FGM/C is a rite of passage--something families do to help prepare girls for adulthood or marriage. In my travels last year, I made clear my view that "there's no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation." Just because this is a tradition in some places does not make it right. This practice is harmful, and therefore wrong wherever it occurs. That is why we have funded programming to combat FGM/C in places like Guinea, just as we have launched a range of actions here at home to stop the practice. In the United States, we have criminalized the transport of girls to undergo FGM/C, worked with religious leaders and community-based organizations to raise awareness--especially in some immigrant communities, where the pressures to engage in this practice remain--and provided grant opportunities for domestic NGOs implementing innovative prevention strategies.
Today, we stand with communities here and around the globe working to prevent FGM/C. We call on girls and their families, teachers, health workers, community and religious leaders, and government officials to act together to make a difference. It's time to put an end to this harmful practice, and to allow communities everywhere to meet their full potential by enabling women and girls to meet theirs.