The Ebonyi State Government in Nigeria has donated N20 million to the Family Succor and Upliftment Foundation to support efforts to put to an end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state.
The Governor, Dave Umahi made the donation during a policy dialogue in commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM on Friday
He said the donation was part of the government contribution to assist in the fight against the practice.
The foundation is a pet project of the Wife of the state Governor, Mrs Rachael Umahi.
The event with the theme: “Ending Female Genital Mutilation is a Political Decision,” is celebrated every February 6.
The governor said that the practice had been an aged long culture that has no benefit but causes more harm to women and girls in the society.
He commended his wife for the initiative and the efforts so far in supporting the state government in the fight against the trend.
“FGM practice is a culture with no benefit. The Foundation is however a wonderful pet project.
“We have captured the bill and it will protect women and girls when passed into law by February 2018 because of its importance, but it has to be looked into properly,” Umahi said.
Umahi, however, commended the efforts of United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF), and National Orientation Agency (NOA), among others to eradicate the menace and promised to give more support .
The governor directed that the state Ministry of Education should write schools in the state to always educate children during schools’ assembly on FGM
Mrs Adline Idike, Chairman of the occasion described the act as a cultural practice that had become endemic for some people and as part of their life.
Idike said to reverse the trend means turning around the orientation of the people, which she said “is very difficult”.
“Law per say, will not do it but we need to go into persuasion and this can be achieved through sensitisation and enlightenment.
“This will enable these people, who believe in this practice to think like others, understand it and this will take years for it to be achieved.,” Idike said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Field Officer, UNICEF, Mr Ibrahim Conteh and Mrs Nkiru Maduechiese, Child Protection expert, UNICEF, said that the agency leads the protection of rights of children and will support move to end FGM.
They commended the state government on its efforts and plans to carry the campaign to the grassroots.
“The fight is a continuous fight and we must all support the campaign, because we have a long way to go and the act could impede on the socio-economic growth of the society,” they said.
Mrs Umahi said that the Foundation had succeeded in reducing the prevalence rate from 74.4% to 43.2% in Ebonyi in the last few years.
“Ebonyi State is also the research destination towards ending Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria,” she said.