Britain has pledged 40 million euros to end female genital mutilation in a generation.
International development minister Lynne Featherstone promised the money during a meeting at the UN in New York on Wednesday.
“This is an opportunity, with momentum building, to take it forward and realise the hope of ending it in a generation,” she was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper. “We want it to move from being harmless to being a harmful right of passage.”
The UN general assembly made a non-binding declaration in December that the procedure is illegal. This usually involves removing the clitoris, which can lead to bleeding and infection.
It is estimated that 140 million women worldwide are subjected to the practice, also known as FGM, according to the World Health Organization.
One victim, who now lives in Brussels, told euronews her story. Khadidiatou Diallo is now president of GAMS Belgique, a group that campaigns against FGM.
“I know that there had been some preparation for this act. The next day, my family woke me up and said we are going to leave now. I thought I was going to school. I arrived at school and I was told that I would be ‘a big girl now’. Being a big girl meant being mutilated.”
Ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday, the European Commission is stumping up 3.7 millions euros to support the activities of Member states and another 11.4 million for NGOs working with victims, such as Amnesty International.
MEP Raul Romeva i Rueda said previous moves to end the practice failed due to a lack of political will.
“What we need right now is not only the political will but also the compromise from the national governments to dedicate money to do these things that need to be done. And that’s also something that needs to be reminded to the parliaments,” he said.
FGM is widely performed in Africa, but other communities in the Middle East and Asia are also known to carry out the procedure.