Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to this important event. Please allow me to honor our distinguished guests by standing on existing protocol.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) harms women and girls across the continent, and we in this room certainly recognize it as an unnecessary procedure without medical value and has no place in society. To this end, the United States is working with its partners around the world to eliminate all forms of Gender Based Violence, including Female Genital Mutilation.
Last October, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the Comprehensive Federal Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. Known more simply as the Gender Strategy, calls for stepping up efforts to prevent Gender Based Violence and to improve services for survivors both in the U.S. and abroad.
Here in Nigeria, the United States has been steadfast in its partnership with the Nigerian government to eliminate this abhorrent practice. Last year, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the $10 million Safe Surgery in Family Planning and Obstetrics program currently implemented in Sokoto, Kebbi, Bauchi, Ebonyi States and in the FCT.
This program is strengthening the health sector by training care providers and improving the training curriculum they need to help victims. It also raises awareness in communities about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation and on where to access care.
USAID also partners with Nigeria on the Momentum Country and Global Leadership (MCGL) program targeting Gender Based Violence in Ebonyi and Sokoto States. The program created a comprehensive referral directory that supports case managers who provide care, treatment, referrals, and support to survivors of Gender Based Violence in nearly 100 government health facilities in some 14 communities.
We are fortunate to partner with the Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Her Excellency Dame Pauline Tallen on both initiatives. Thank you for your hard work on behalf of women and continued partnership.
I would like to close with a quote from Secretary Blinken from the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony in 2021 that I think is apt for this occasion:
“When we design our foreign policy with the rights and needs of women and girls in mind, our policy is more effective, more humane, and more likely to make a lasting difference in people’s lives. And when we support women, we can help foster change on a much broader scale. Because it is often women doing the hard work to make that change happen.”
I agree with Secretary Blinken, and proudly reaffirm the United States’ commitment to continue in our shared struggle to end Female Genital Mutilation. Thank you very much.