On 14 September 2015, the Wilson Center Maternal Health Initiative convened this dialogue, in partnership with the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

It is estimated that more than 3 million girls, the majority under 15 years of age, undergo genital mutilation every year. Female genital mutilation (FGM), which comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, is widely practiced in 29 African countries and in some countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

FGM exposes girls and women to very serious health complications including hemorrhage and bacterial infection, both of which can result in death. Women that have undergone FGM are also at an increased risk for obstetric complications during childbirth and face an increased risk of post-partum hemorrhage and cesarean section. But FGM is a deeply entrenched cultural practice. Many health workers face significant social pressure to perform FGM and are often ill equipped to resist such pressure.

Panelists presented on programs supporting the integration of FGM abandonment within sexual and reproductive health services, and initiatives to mobilize and increase the capacity of midwives and other frontline workers in FGM elimination and care for women who have undergone FGM.

Congressman Joseph Crowley gave introductory remarks.

Written by Francesca Cameron, edited by Schuyler Null.

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  • Sandeep Bathala
    Former Senior Program Associate, Environmental Change and Security Program, Maternal Health Initiative
  • Aissata M.B. Camara
    Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, There Is No Limit Foundation
  • Nafissatou Diop, PhD
    Coordinator, UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, United Nations Population Fund
  • Geeta Lal
    Sr. Technical Advisor for Strategic Partnerships, Human Resources for Health, UNFPA
  • Nicole Warren, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Department of Community-Public Health, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing