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Female Genital Mutilation

We're working to prevent female genital mutilation by empowering children, women and communities in several countries.

What is FGM?

FGM refers to the removal of all, or part, of the female external genitalia. It's 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's 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.


In Ethiopia for example, we work with the government and NGOs and:

  • Meet with community and youth groups & religious leaders
  • Train health workers to assist those affected by FGM
  • Work with women who perform FGM to support them into alternative livelihoods and help them advocate against FGM

In South Sudan in May 2020, we've welcomed the passing of Article 141, aimed at criminalising FGM.

Arshad Malik, Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, said: FGM is not only a violation of girl’s rights, it has serious consequences for a girl’s physical and mental health. Introducing a national law is a great step towards eradicating the practice entirely. "

“I am not alone. We fight this together – girls and boys."

Help us to support more children like Saada*, 10, anti-FGM campaigner.

Meet Madan, an FGM survivor

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

She's 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 and her daughter. Photo: Jordi Matas

Madan and her daughter. Photo: Jordi Matas

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."

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

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

Mohamed, Community Leader

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 Abdigani (community leader)

Mohamed Abdigani (community leader)

‘I have never felt afraid. Never in my life’

Saada*, 10, anti-FGM campaigner

Want to know more?