Female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced
marriage (CEFM) harm girls profoundly and permanently, denying
them their right to make their own decisions and to reach their full
FGM causes pain, risks in childbirth and emotional and
psychological harm. Child marriage leads to early childbearing,
which increases the likelihood of complications and death during
childbirth. It also disrupts girls’ education and exposes them to an
increased likelihood of domestic violence.
Worldwide, more than 250 million women alive today were
married before their 15th birthday, and over 125 million women
currently live with the consequences of FGM.
The good news is that things are changing. This year, the UK
supported strong, consensus UN resolutions on FGM and CEFM.
The UK’s Forced Marriage Unit, a joint FCO and Home Office unit,
continues to provide support and assistance to victims of forced
marriage. And in the heart of communities in the UK, Africa, South
Asia, the Middle East and Europe, more and more people are
saying no to these practices. There is also a growing African-led
movement to end FGM and child marriage, with religious leaders,
politicians and First Ladies speaking out. Our role is to support and
accelerate these efforts.
It was in this spirit that, on 22 July, the Prime Minister hosted over
650 participants from 50 countries at the Girl Summit, the first ever
global summit on ending FGM and CEFM, at London’s Walworth
At the summit, the Prime Minister said that the event represented
“the start of a global movement”. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala
Yousafzai called on world leaders not to be “followers of those
traditions that go against human rights”. She stressed that “we
are human beings and we make the traditions”. This was echoed
by government and civil society representatives who pledged to
change laws and attitudes in equal measure, as exemplified by
Ethiopia’s commitment to eradicate FGM and CEFM totally by
To date, 480 organisations and individuals (including 42
governments) have signed the Girl Summit Charter, which sets
out specific actions to end FGM and CEFM. Over 170 specific
commitments have been made by a range of government and civil
society actors, and more than $90 million has been pledged to
end these practices. Satellite events were held in Kenya, the US,
Uganda, Zimbabwe, India and Guinea-Bissau. The UK also
hosted #YouthForChange on 19 July, an event to inspire young
people to act on girls’ rights.
UK ambassadors and diplomatic staff in over 70 of our embassies
and high commissions worked in close partnership with
Department for International Development officials to ensure
governments came to the summit prepared to make these
commitments, that they were represented by senior ministers, and
that as many key countries as possible signed the charter.
The FCO remains committed to building on the summit’s success.
We will continue to lobby states to sign the charter, and make
further commitments to end FGM and CEFM that will prevent
hundreds of millions more being robbed of their childhood and
stripped of their rights.