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Project to end FGM/C and child marriage in Mali

Led by ODI, in partnership with Plan International Mali, and funded by UNICEF Mali through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, this project aims to contribute to the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage in Mali and beyond.

FGM/C and child marriage both constitute acts of gender-based violence and negatively affect the rights and development of girls and women. 650 million females alive today were married before the age of 18, with a further 12 million more facing the same fate each year. Over 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM/C, and every year 4 million more are at risk of being cut.

The rate of progress for reducing the number of child marriages and the number of girls and women who are cut has been painfully slow respite large investments in programmes to combat it. As a consequence, ODI, together with UNICEF, have conducted this in-depth, multipronged, research focusing on Mali - a country where 89% of girls and women are cut and where there has only been a 2% decrease in the last two decades.

This research, presented here through a literature review, situation analysis report, baseline report, and toolkit, aims to address some of the core questions relating to how support for child marriage and FGM/C can be reduced.

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LITERATURE REVIEW: Social norms and behaviour change approaches to challenge FGM and child marriage in Mali

This literature review brings together existing evidence on the drivers that explain the persistence of FGM/C, including the role of social norms, and the behaviour change programmes/approaches to challenge FGM/C and child marriage. The review focuses on children and youth as they transition from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood and focuses on existing studies in Mali as well as global literature.

This review informed the qualitative and quantitative primary research conducted by ODI and Plan International in Mali as part of the broader study. It also assisted the next stage of this work programme to design behavioural change tools to be used at the community, municipal, local and/or regional levels.

View summary

SITUATION ANALYSIS REPORT: ‘A cut woman is the pride of all her relatives’: a situation analysis of female genital mutilation in Mali

This study offers a situation analysis of FGM/C in Mali, where 89% of females aged 15 to 49 years old have been cut and where support for the practice is widespread. In 2018, just 17% of females favoured discontinuing the practice compared to 13% of men.

The study describes trends in FGM/C in Mali and the factors that lead FGM/C to persist or to be abandoned. It focuses on six study sites of interventions run by the EU-funded Spotlight Initiative and UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme. The study also identifies and explores the attitudes and role of the main stakeholders who decide upon and/or shape attitudes towards the practice, and examines programming strategies and approaches to challenging FGM/C in the study sites.

View report

TOOLKIT: Challenging gender norms around FGM/C and child marriage in Mali

This new toolkit from ODI supports the work of NGO partners and other local actors to encourage positive change in the fight against FGM/C and child marriage. Focusing on Mali and other similar contexts, the toolkit has been produced to distill understanding of what influences gender norms in relation to FGM/C and child marriage and offers practical evidence-based solutions.

The toolkit focuses on what can be done at the community level, drawing on a review of existing tools and their results to address FGM/C and child marriage and to highlight the most effective examples.

View toolkit (French only)

BASELINE REPORT: A quantitative analysis of social norms relating to FGM/C and child marriage in Mali

This study presents the key findings of research to quantitatively assess social norms related to FGM/C and child marriage in five intervention zones in Mali: Bamako, Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso and Ségou.

The aim of the research is to better understand if and how social norms may be driving the persistence of these two harmful practices, and to offer preliminary data points from which potential shifts in norms can be measured.

View report