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United Nations Population Fund's Youth Participatory Platform (UNFPA-YPP) trains 200 girls in Osun on digital skills to advocate FGM abandonment

By Olawale Oyegbade, The Nigerian Voice, S/W Bureau Chief

As part of efforts to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the United Nations Population Fund's Youth Participatory Platform (UNFPA-YPP) has trained over 200 girls in Osun State on digital skills and how to use the social media advocate for FGM abandonment.

UNFPA YPP, in partnership with a Non Governmental Organisation, Value Female Network (VFN) had selected female students of Secondary Schools and tertiary institutions in Osun state who have Android phones and also use social media for the 2 day training which was held at Aurora Conference Centre in Osogbo between November 1 and 2, 2019.

The participants that were drawn from twenty communities in Osun were taken through theoretical and practical trainings on how to make use of FGM Apps and the social media to advocate against the deadly practice and also sensitise stakeholders in their communities to abandon the practice of cutting girls.

The Coordinator of UNFPA YPP, Lagos, Elizabeth Talatu, while addressing the participants on Community/Youth Involvement in the abandonment of FGM stressed the need for community leaders to get involve in efforts at ending FGM.

Talatu charged the participants to change agents in their communities and ensure that through the use of digital platforms and the social media, FMG activities and perpetrators are exposed.

She called on the young female students to always report attempts by anyone to mutilate them and violate their rights to Civil Society Organisations and the Police adding that there are law as that frown against FGM in Nigeria.

Talatu therefore called governments, security agencies and the judiciary to ensure the domestication of laws against FGM in States in order for culprits to be prosecuted.

"UNFPA YPP, Lagos has organised this two-day training for girls in Osun communities to train them on how to make use of digital platforms and social media handles to champion the abandonment of FGM. We expect these participants to return to their communities and start creating awareness on social media and also reporting any violence against them," Talatu said.

Also addressing the participants, a member of UNFPA YPP, Blessing Ashi explained that FGM is harms girls and leaves them traumatised without health benefits. She called for its abandonment and also called on health workers and female cutters to desist from the act.

According to Ashi, the training would help build the digital capacities of the pupils in order to create behavioural change among their peers and adults through the use of the various social media platforms.

She expressed optimism that the training would fast track a rapid reduction of FGM prevalence in Osun.

Speaking, Costly Aderibigbe, a member of UNFPA YPP and the Executive Director of VFN that hosted the training, said there was the need to employ the use of digital to combat the spread of FGM to get the desired results.

She said that exposing the pupils to information on FGM and the mastery of the usage of the several digital tools would go a long way to address the scourge.

She said, "we decided to come to Osun to train these over 200 female students because Osun state is among states where FGM is common.

"We want to build an army of girls who would use their digital skills to help eradicate the scourge.

"The world is now a global village and we want them to use the skills acquired from here to reach out to their peers, talk to people in their communities with the usage of digital skills. You can imagine the rate at which the message will be spread. We are also looking at their generations ending FGM.

"It is better if the young people are talking about ending FGM because it is affecting them the more. They have information to rescue others and raise alarm when there is any suspected case," Aderibigbe said.

On of the participants who spoke with journalists after the training, Mary Babatunde, said she would be more active on social media with a view to creating advocacy against the deadly practice.

Aisha Oladapo, another participant, begged government and security agencies to ensure immediate arrest and prosecution of anyone found indulging in FGM. The participants resolved to do everything within their reach to ensure that FGM is abandoned through social media advocacy.

UNFPA YPP provided the participants with vests, FGM Apps and other materials that would aid their efforts in advocating FGM.