(Female Genital Mutilation)

We’re working in several countries empowering women and communities to prevent FGM.

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to the removal of all, or part, of the female external genitalia. It is also known as ‘female genital cutting’ or ‘female circumcision’.

FGM can cause a range of health problems, such as severe bleeding, problems urinating, cysts and infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. There are no health benefits to FGM.

More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut. It is most common in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.

FGM can also refer to any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

How we're helping

We’re working in several countries to prevent FGM.

In Ethiopia, we’re working in partnership with the government and local NGOs to empower women to prevent FGM.

We do this by:

  • Organising meetings with women and girls' community groups so they can learn about the harmful effects of FGM and speak out against it in their communities
  • Training health workers to assist women and girls affected by FGM
  • Providing training, support and employment to those who carry out FGM, so they do not have to rely on it for their livelihood
  • Working with religious leaders to advocate against FGM
  • Working with youth groups so that both girls and boys can learn about the negative effects of child marriage, gender inequality and FGM, and spread this knowledge among their communities through songs, poems and plays.


Madan survived FGM. Now she campaigns against the practice in her local community.

Madan has joined a women's federation that is working to prevent FGM. We support the group, in partnership with the Ethiopian Government.

FGM and child marriage are illegal in Ethiopia, yet they are both still happening.

It's estimated that FGM affects around a third of girls under the age of 15. Most often, girls are cut at just nine years old.

Madan, a survivor of FGM and now campaigner, and her daughter.

Madan and her daughter, Ethopia

Hido, Ex-cutter

Hido* used to carry out FGM in her community in Somalia. Now she's working to prevent it.

"Today, I think that what I did is horribly wrong," she says. "Every night, I pray for forgiveness. I don't know how many girls I have operated on, but at least fifty.

"I used to consider circumcising girls as an important part of our tradition, and it was my livelihood. Then I met the women of TASS [an organisation Save the Children works with] and Save the Children, and decided to stop".

Hido is now a strong advocate against FGM. She volunteers and goes door-to-door, talking to women.

She says: "They know me from before, and where I come from, which is why they listen to what I have to say. Already now, we are seeing results."

FGM, ex-cutter, Somalia

Hido, a woman in her fifties, the local circumciser, put down the knives, razorblades and needles and threw all her equipment away.


Mohamed is an elected community leader in the Jowle camp in Garowe, Somalia.

"I will never circumcise my children," he says. "No one will touch my daughters. I have told the entire neighbourhood.

"They find it difficult to understand, since female circumcision has been going on forever. Others agree that the tradition is harmful and has to go."

Mohamed works with our local staff and with the women from our partner organisation, TASS. We’ve given him training on child protection and FGM.

In Somalia, female genital mutilation is widely culturally accepted - in fact 98% of girls and women in the country undergo FGM. Nonetheless, efforts to eradicate it are gaining ground.

Mohamed, community leader

Mohamed, community leader in Somalia stands against FGM.

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