In 2012, I met Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini, the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations. Ambassador Ragaglini is a passionate diplomat. He asked me if I would be willing to do a concert in the UN General Assembly Hall to raise awareness about female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), which involve the cutting of female genitals for non-medical reason. “Yes!” I replied immediately. One girl who has been harmed by this brutal practice is one too many—I had to raise my voice against FMG/C.

Millions of women and girls around the world are still threatened by FGM/C, which in addition to being extremely detrimental to their health, is also internationally recognized as a violation of their human rights. Today more than 125 million girls and women have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM/C is concentrated. If current trends continue, by 2030 an additional 86 million girls worldwide are likely to be victims of this practice.

But these trends can be reversed and some encouraging signs exist. The most recent estimates show that, since 2008, when the Joint Programme of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on FGM/C was established, more and more communities have abandoned the practice. The Programme works in the field to encourage communities to act collectively, so that girls who opt out don’t become social outcasts. This approach has led some 8,000 communities across Africa to abandon the practice. Legal action in addition to alliances with religious or traditional leaders are also key to success, and by 2013 more than 11,000 communities across Africa publicly declared their commitment to end FGM/C.

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In November 2012 a historical resolution was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly to intensify global efforts and eliminate FGM/C, showing the world’s commitment to end this harmful practice.

I was lucky to be born and raised in Africa in a family that stood up against so called “traditions”. Unfortunately the fate of millions of girls is different. As I was standing in the General Assembly Hall, I wanted my voice to be theirs. Join me and raise your voice for women and girls. Together we can eliminate FGM/C in one generation and help millions of women live healthier, fuller lives.

Angélique Kidjo is a Grammy Award-winning West African singer and has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since July 2002. A passionate advocate for girls’ education, Ms. Kidjo travels widely and often speaks out to support UNICEF programmes.

The concert “Angélique Kidjo at the UN” is available online and on demand or, for those in the US, at the following airdates [EST time] on DIRECTV Channel 375 | DISH Network Chanel 9410: 

Wednesday, April 30th at 07:00 pm
Saturday, May 10th, at 06:00 am
Wednesday, May 14th, at 09:00 pm
Thursday, May 15th, at 12:00 am

Related information:

  • End FGM #EndFGM
  • Joint UNFPA/UNICEF Programme on FGM/C