10 December 2015

Will the new government in Burkina Faso bring a better future for its girls?

3 out of 4 girls and women in Burkina Faso have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM) but new research indicates that attitudes are changing.

As 28 Too Many publishes its Country Profile on FGM in Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kabore has just been newly elected as President and there is much hope that this will bring a sustained period of peace, stability and economic development to the country. With a new focus on the international development agenda following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 (SDGs), this is also an opportunity to make important progress towards tackling social challenges affecting the lives of its citizens.

One of these challenges is the widespread practice of FGM. Despite being the first African country to legislate against FGM (1996) and support from the previous Government for anti-FGM campaigns, prevalence remains high at 76% for women and girls aged 14-59 years (DHS 2010, p.291).
However, most girls (99%) are cut below the age of 14 and there is evidence to suggest the practice may be declining as the rate of prevalence amongst 15-19 year old girls is 58% compared to a rate of 89% amongst women aged 45-49 years. In addition more than 80% of women and men say the practice should be stopped. This is hopeful but needs to be looked at with caution as some NGOs have suggested reporting is lower because of the law, and that girls are being cut younger and being taken to be cut in neighbouring countries where there is no law or enforcement is less stringent.

“The new President of Burkina Faso has pledged to improve health and I hope he will continue the former governments’ commitment to end FGM as a part of this pledge,” says Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, Executive Director of 28 Too Many. “To win the election President Kabore had to appeal to the very large young population who have had the chance to vote for someone new for the first time. There is now an opportunity to step up the campaign to end FGM, improve education and engage the young even further. We hope this new report will be a useful contribution to this work. ”