A cross-section of Imo youths says it is poised to work with UNICEF and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state.
The youths said this on Friday at a two-day workshop, tagged, “Male Engagement Alliance to end FGM Coalition’, held at the headquarters of Njaba Local Government Area (LGA).
The participants, who were drawn from 37 communities in Isu and Njaba LGAs, thanked UNICEF and NOA for bringing the campaign to end FGM down to rural communities.
Speaking on behalf of the youths, Mr Geoffrey Nnogwarim, the Youth Leader, Amaiyiaku Community in Njaba LGA, frowned at the negative physical and psychological effects of FGM.
Nnogwarim said it was time to end the primordial practice and liberate the girl child from unnecessary suffering.
“Today, we have come to sign the membership list and pledge form of the ‘Male Engagement Alliance to end FGM Coalition’.
“The pledge is a demonstration of our readiness to synergise with UNICEF, NOA and other support bodies for an end to FGM in our communities and state at large,’’ he said.
The UNICEF facilitator for FGM in Imo, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, said the youths would develop a four-month plan of action to jointly advocate and promote the elimination of FGM in their various communities.
Ekeocha further said that upon return to their communities, the youths would serve as FGM advocates.
He said they were expected to inform traditional and religious leaders about the practice as well as carry out anti-FGM campaigns at town union meetings.
Also, the UNICEF Programme Officer for FGM, Mr Chigozie Ojiaku, urged the youths to focus on the advantages of the elimination of the practice to the larger society.
According to him, ending the practice will raise the next generation in a framework of gender equality and lead to positive changes in behaviour thus opening the way for women empowerment.
Also, Mrs Stella Ukaegbu, the UNICEF Focal Person for FGM, the Imo Ministry of Health, urged the youths to liaise with communities for a more effective dissemination of the information.
Ukaegbu lauded them for taking up the pledge and urged them to “jettison unfounded claims by critics that FGM is an aspect of culture that has come to stay.
“Culture is made by man for man and man should not be subjected to unnecessary sufferings for the sake of culture.
“Just like the killing of twins was later abolished, so we are going to end all aspects of culture that have serious debilitating effects on the physical, mental and psychological wellbeing of our people,’’ Ukaegbu said.