Indicator 41. Percentage of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone FGM/C

Rationale and definition:

The prevalence of harmful traditional practices, particularly the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), is measured as the percentage of women aged 15-49 who respond positively to surveys asking if they themselves have been cut. FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM has no known health benefits, and is on the contrary painful and traumatic, with immediate and long-term health consequences. The practice reflects deep-rooted gender inequality and is an extreme form of discrimination against women.1


By age, ethnicity, region, and wealth quintile. WHO further distinguishes by four categories of FGM.2

Comments and limitations:

Many countries’ household surveys do not include the necessary questions to estimate FGM/C prevalence, and/or do not report on the prevalence among girls aged 15-19.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Household surveys.

Potential lead agency or agencies:


  1. World Health Organization (2008). Eliminating female genital mutilation: An interagency statement – OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, WHO.

  2. See WHO website on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).