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3ie ~ International Initiative for Impact Evaluation

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Focus on Female Genital Mutilation

Girl's Education, Primary Health- including reproductive health, Sexual Behavior
Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa (includes East and West Africa)


Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) has negative health consequences for women, ranging from pain, bleeding, and shock due to chronic infections. Around 140 million girls and women live with the risks caused by FGM/C, of which 92 million girls and women are in Africa. 

In December 2012, 194 UN member states passed a resolution for intensifying the efforts to ban the practice across the globe.

Behaviour change communications, educational sessions on reproductive health, advocacy and capacity building programmes for NGOs and local communities, including comprehensive social development programmes have been used to reduce the prevalence of the practice. 

The brief summarises the key findings from a recent 3ie Systematic review by Rigmor C. Berg and Eva Denison, on the effectiveness of interventions to tackle FGM/C .The review examined studies from Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia/Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

Key findings

  • FGM/C has proven health risks but prevalence remains high in many countries.
  • Changes in the law are by themselves not enough.
  • Interventions that were not aligned with community needs, or did not involve religious leaders, suffered low attendance and drop outs.
  • Educational sessions for men and women, including sessions on reproductive health for female university students, demonstrated an increase in awareness of the risks of FGM/C.