Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality prefers to use the more sensitive term Female Genital Cutting instead of Female Genital Mutilation out of respect for the millions of women and girls around the world who have undergone the procedure and live with its consequences.
From 2008 to 2010, WISE collaborated with a local partner organization in the area Dair El Nahia region of Giza, Egypt to work with FGC practitioners to stop performing the FGC procedure. We identified common practitioners, ie. barbers and midwifes, who were performing between 120-180 FGC procedures a year and included them in a pilot project combining religious education and income replacement strategies in eliminating the practice of FGC in Egypt’s slum areas.
The economic status of FGC practitioners represented a key challenge, as it was a major impediment to the cessation of these procedures. For this reason, extending other income-generating activities and obtain comparable income levels was essential. This strategy gave the practitioners the financial sustainability, enabling them to abandon the practice of FGC.
In addition, providing the practitioners with religious training in the form of accurate scriptural interpretation and guidance on conveying messages to clients and others was crucial for terminating FGC practices. The religious training, which included an affiliation with a respected teacher and a certificate from the well-respected Al-Azhar University confirming that FGC is un-Islamic, gave the practitioners the religious authority to stop the practice themselves and advocate for its cessation throughout their communities.
After the success of the pilot programs, additional advocacy seminars and educational sessions on FGC for Dair El Nahia residents were planned, and incentives were offered to families who agreed not to allow their daughters to undergo the practice.
In phase one the program effectively reduced the rate of FGC in the Dair El Nahia region of Giza, Egypt:
Phase two of the program targeted two additional FGC practitioners in Dair El Nahia, Giza: