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Exploring the diversity of FGM/C practices in Ethiopia. Drivers, experiences and opportunities for social norm change

Research reports

Written by Nicola Jones

Image credit:© Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) – defined as all procedures involving injury to or removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons – is practised in 29 African countries, including Ethiopia, and in parts of Asia and the Middle East. Due to its large population and its high national incidence rate (65%), Ethiopia has the world’s second largest total number of women and girls who have experienced FGM/C (behind Egypt). Although progress towards eliminating FGM/C has accelerated in recent years, this may be due to under-reporting due to criminalisation of the practice in 2005.

This report draws on research conducted by the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programme. It explores the diversity of practices and the ways in which current policy and programming efforts are contributing to change, as well as identifying where there are still blockages in shifting practices and norms around FGM/C. Critically, our findings suggest that mechanistic awareness-raising efforts are falling flat in the communities in which FGM/C is most embedded, and that future progress depends on more strategic and context-tailored efforts to address the intersecting age and gender norms that underpin the practice.

Authors: Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Nicola Jones, Erin Oakley, Rebecca Dutton, Sarah Baird, Workneh Yadete and Yitagesu Gebeyehu