Changing the Social Convention: towards the abandonment of the FGM/C

©UNICEF IRC - Innocenti Digest cover page


Combining concrete field experience with tested academic theory, the Digest provides a practical tool to bring about positive change for girls and women. There is good reason to be optimistic that, with the appropriate support, FGM/C can be ended in many practicing communities within a single generation.

The continuing practice of FGM/C is driven by socio-cultural, psycho-sexual, religious and aesthetic or hygienic arguments. Almost all of these are linked to girls' social status and marriage-ability. Social convention theory demonstrates that if a single family alone chooses to abandon the practice, it effectively deprives the daughter from becoming a full and recognized member of her community. The choice to abandon FGM/C must therefore be collective.

In the light of this theory, a critical examination of action to date helps identify the key elements of successful approaches for the abandonment of the practice by working at both community and national