Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Last update: October 2022 | Next update: May 2023

1 in 3 girls aged 15-19 living in 31 countries have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. A grave violation of women’s and girls’ rights to health and overall well-being, FGM is a deeply entrenched social norm rooted in gender inequality. The international community has codified its commitment to eliminating the practice by 2030 under Target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

While the exact number of girls and women worldwide who have undergone FGM remains unknown, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 31 countries with representative data on prevalence. Over the past decade, the proportion of adolescent girls aged 15-19 who have undergone the practice in these countries has decreased from 41 per cent to 34 per cent. But progress is not nearly fast enough to meet the 2030 SDG target of eliminating FGM by 2030. However, attitudes toward FGM are shifting, which can provide momentum to abandon the practice. In countries in sub-Saharan Africa where FGM is practiced, for example, nearly 3 in 4 adolescent girls and women aged 15-49 who have heard of the FGM think the practice should end.

For more information about FGM and to access the data, click here