Boko Mohammed, a former excisor (a practitioner who performs FGM/C), holds the tool she used to perform the procedure at a community meeting in Kabele Village, in Amibara District, Afar Region. Boko no longer performs FGM/C. The meeting was organized by the Rohi-Weddu Pastoral Women Development Organization. UNICEF staff members are also in attendance. [#1 IN SEQUENCE OF EIGHT]

In November 2009 in Ethiopia, the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) continues to decline as local communities, government authorities and international agencies encourage communities to abandon harmful practices. An estimated three million girls in Africa still undergo FGM/C each year, a procedure that can cause infection, chronic pain, complications during pregnancy and delivery, and increased rates of neonatal mortality. But holistic development initiatives that engage local communities, including leaders and women, are making a difference. Such programmes focus on health issues including HIV/AIDS, family planning and harmful traditional practices, while offering a forum for community members to find solutions to common problems. Grounded in human rights principles, respect for participants culture and views, and recognition that genuine change takes time, these programmes have led to increased rejection of FGM/C and other harmful practices. Ethiopia has one of the highest FGM/C prevalence rates in the world, but community dialogues have enabled 70 districts to enforce laws criminalizing the procedure, and four of the countrys districts have pledged to abandon it entirely. Nevertheless, the practice remains widespread, particularly in regions that practice infibulation, the most severe form of FGM/C. UNICEF, with the support of the European Commission, is partnering with local NGOs such as the Rohi-Weddu Pastoral Women Development Organization. Rohi-Weddu, which means life saving in the Afarigna language, conducts community dialogues about harmful social practices and promotes education and training for women in the Afar Region. UNICEF also supports the Ethiopian Nurse Midwife Association and the Health Extension Workers, who are integrating the abandonment of FGM/C into existing maternal-child health clinics and programmes. Globally, human-rights-based development methodologies with social-change perspectives are helping communities abandon a variety of practices harmful to girls and women, including child marriage, domestic violence and impediments to girls education.