On the occasion of the International Zero Tolerance Against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Day, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) calls for implementation of national plans aiming to eliminate this harmful traditional practice (HTP) and all forms of violence against women and girls to not lose pace. An EHRC assessment carried out in November 2020 found that the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to an increase of HTP prevalence nationwide and to a slowdown of actions deriving from country level plans to prevent FGM and early marriage. Although FGM is still practiced in all regions of Ethiopia, in Somali, Afar, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNPR) as well as Gambella regions, the rate of reduction of its prevalence is negligible.
The draft 10-year national development plan (2021-2030), still under review, targets complete country wide elimination of FGM and early marriage by 2030. However, on the one hand, this is not aligned with the National Roadmap to Eliminate Early Marriage and FGM which plans to do so by 2025. Moreover, a study carried out by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), shows that the efforts over past 15 years in this regard need to be multiplied by a factor of at least 13 if the Roadmap’s goals are to be met.
On the other hand, the baseline used in the draft 10-year national, putting the prevalence at 6.4% based on a 2017/2018 data, when more recent data, aligned with the end of the Growth and Transformation Plan II implementation period, is not available, may skew achievement results.
Nationwide plans to eliminate all forms of violence and HTP against women and girls need to be evidence based and must rely on strong coordination. Rigorous studies and assessments are needed in terms of identifying the real impact of COVID-19 on HTP and gender-based violence.
The EHRC assessment also shows that local administrative structures are often not sufficiently aware of plans designed for country wide implementation and that the lack of detailed actions plans at these levels further contributes to stall progress. Plans to eliminate HTP are often disregarded from budget allocations and there is still a long way to go in terms of ensuring participation of civic societies working on the issue. This may continue to hinder the realization of national goals and plans on the subject.