Break the cycle: End female genital mutilation in Nigeria


“[Circuit Pointe’s] visit enlightened us, and especially myself as a woman leader, to know that it is not good to perform female genital mutilation” - Eucharia Kelechi Onyema, a woman leader from Mbaitoli community, Imo state 

Group of seven black women standing outside a building, gathered around a banner that reads "Break the cycle: end violence against women"
Orientation meeting in Mbaitoli, Nigeria. Credit: Circuit Pointe

Circuit Pointe, a women’s rights organization in Nigeria, has been leading a project in Imo and Ebonyi states since 2022 to address violence against marginalized women and girls, including female genital mutilation (FGM). The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) is supporting the project. 

Working with community gatekeepers 

The project has collaborated with over 200 community leaders, who act as cultural gatekeepers, including traditional rulers and women leaders, to raise awareness about laws that condemn FGM and intimate partner violence, and speak out against other harmful traditional practices. According to Millicent Onyenuche, Executive Director of Circuit Pointe, community gatekeepers “play pivotal roles in preventing and responding to female genital mutilation.”  

The project engages in dialogue and partnerships to encourage traditional authorities to participate fully in FGM prevention strategies and help mitigate any resistance. These partnerships help to ensure that engaged authorities are accountable, and take full ownership of driving social norms change within their communities. Regular consultations and joint planning sessions ensure the project’s objectives are aligned with community norms and values, for instance through co-creating educational materials with community leaders. Circuit Pointe also works with traditional birth attendants (TBA), who are often involved in the practice of FGM. The project aims to empower them to become agents of positive change in their communities and therefore provides them with targeted training programmes on the negative health implications of the harmful practice, on gender equality and women’s rights. In addition, TBAs also receive training programmes and other support services which support them in obtaining alternative sources of income resulting from abandoning the harmful traditional practice of FGM. 

Empowering women and girls  

Circuit Pointe works to empower women and girls to reclaim their rights, including their bodily autonomy. By providing access to a wide range of support services as well as information on health and reproductive rights, the organization ensures that women and girls are equipped to rebuild their lives, make informed decisions about their own body and speak up against violence. According to Circuit Pointe’s latest report, four in five women and girls feel safe, empowered and protected in communities where the project has been active and FGM and intimate partner violence are no longer tolerated. 

Resilient adaptation 

In a context of political instability and rising insecurity in Nigeria, marginalized women and girls face limited access to essential information and services. In response, Circuit Pointe has quickly adapted to ensure that it can still respond to their specific needs. It has introduced innovative technology-based solutions, including a mobile app with offline and online functionalities; and has widely disseminated radio broadcasts and SMS blast campaigns to provide key resources, including education materials. In addition, the project has established helplines to provide immediate support to survivors of violence.  

Millicent Onyenuche said: “This multifaceted approach not only allows Circuit Pointe to maintain its connection with project communities, but also ensures that victims are not left without access to crucial resources and assistance.” 

The work of UN Trust Fund grantee organizations like Circuit Pointe is critical to ensure that women and girls, including the most marginalized ones, can live free from violence and any forms of harmful practices, even in challenging contexts.