In September 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals ("SDGs"), which replaced the Millennium Development Goals.  They are set out in a document entitled Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an extract of which is available below.

The 17 SDGs and their 169 targets are based on five "areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet": 


Several other SDGs have relevance for women and girls who have experienced or are likely to experience FGM, in particular those related to education, health and gender equality.  Those SDGs aim, by 2030, to:

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 5 makes explicit reference to FGM at 5.3:

Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations.

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

(3.2)  End preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

(3.7)  Universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

The targets for Goal 4 make specific reference to ensuring girls and other vulnerable people receive equitable early-childhood development, inclusive and effective schooling at all levels, and vocational training and university education; they also include aspirations for adult women and men to receive equal skills training to achieve literacy and numeracy and enable them to take up decent jobs and start businesses.

(4.7)  By 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.


The inclusion in the SDGs of a specific target to eliminate FGM conveys the significant negative impact FGM makes on humanity.  The prevention of FGM is thereby associated with the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, the promotion of universal primary education and gender equality, the reduction of child mortality, the improvement of maternal health and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

It is important, therefore, to highlight FGM in the context of these when creating grant proposals and communicating anti-FGM initiatives to a wider audience.  There has been a momentum for change, with the UN’s global ban on FGM in December 2012 and the UN Commission on the Status of Women 57th session, which focused on violence against women and girls, including FGM.  This momentum to eliminate FGM and violence against women can be continued within the framework of the SDGs, which has global support.

Learn more about the SDGs at