Some women groups in Owerri West and Ehime Mbano Local Government areas of Imo State have commended UNICEF and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for their concerted efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state.
The women gave the commendation yesterday at a one-day “Training, Orientation and Mobilisation of ENDFGM Community Champions”, held at All Saints Anglican Church, Umuguma in Owerri West and Ehime Mbano Local Government Areas.
The the two local government areas are made up of 52 communities with Owerri West having 21 communities, while Ehime Mbano has 31 communities.
The women said it was necessary that old cultural and traditional practices with pains and disadvantages against women be dealt away within Imo communities.
According to them, many people have been misled, put in danger or made to die as a result of ignorance and petty belief about cultural practices such as FGM.
The women commended NOA and UNICEF for their training programmes that created awareness on the implications, laws and subsequent consequences of FGM and other harmful cultural practices on the girl-child and women.
Mrs Chinyere Ejiogu from Orogwe in Owerri West Local Government and Chair Lady of Umunganwoke Women Association, said that many people, especially women, had been misled due to ignorance.
She described the trainings as essential and eye openers and called on women in the communities to stop the cutting or multilation of female genitals at any point in life.
She commended UNICEF and NOA for the training programmes and promised to help to spread the message around in her community which comprised of six villages.
Mrs Chinyere Manu from Umalum-Nekede Owerri West and Secreatary General, Nekede Ancient Kingdom Women Association, expressed gratitude to UNICEF and NOA for creating awareness on FGM, saying that many women and families had suffered and were still suffering from effects of FGM.
She advised women to stop the practice of FGM, which she said, had many disadvantages and promised to help spread the message to help end FGM in her community.
Mrs Clara Nkwocha from Okolochi- Owerri West and the Acting President of Udodiri Women Group, expressed gratitude to the organisers, stressing that the training had exposed the negative effects of FGM and how to champion the message to people in their communities.
She said FGM was fraught with embarrassing consequences to women and the girl-child and promised to pass the message of its abandonment through youths, women meetings and from house-to -house.
At Ehime Mbano LGA, Mrs Chinyere Ejigha from Umakagu Autonomous Community, said that people were ignorant of many things and except they were thought and informed would remain ignorant.
Ejigha, also Secretary of Umuakagu Women Group, which has six villages, expressed happiness that the training programmes were brought to her commnunity to help save lives of girl children and women.
“The training programme is informative and educative. NOA and UNICEF is doing communities in Imo a good favour. They are putting a lot of efforts to ensure the end of FGM, and we are grateful for that.
Mrs Maria Obioha from Umuezeala Ogwara Autonomous Community, Ehime Mbano, said she had been re-orientated on the issues of FGM and other harmful cultural practises that needed to be stopped in communities in the state.
According to her, women that had FGM performed on them experienced difficulties during child delivery unlike those who did not, while others encountered problems as a result of FGM which they carry through out life time while others die.
The state Director of NOA, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, explained the properties, dynamism, value, benefits and harmful effects of culture and tradition and factors were reinforcing the practices.
He identified other harmful cultural practises to include tribal marks, widow inheritance, early marriage/child bearing, preference for sons over daughters, forced marriage and FGM.