Press release: Female genitalia proposed for UNESCO World Heritage List

Kuvassa hakemuskansio, jonka Solidaarisuus toimittaa Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriöön

International Solidarity Foundation is proposing to include the female genitalia on UNESCO World Heritage List as a protective measure against female genital mutilation (FGM). The application will submit on the eve of International Day of the Girl Child in Finland. FGM affects over 200 million girls and women worldwide. 44,000 girls and women die annually as a result of FGM.

On International Day of the Girl Child, the International Solidarity Foundation will submit an application demanding the female genitalia to be added to UNESCO World Heritage List for protection against FGM. International Solidarity Foundation is a Finnish organisation working against female genital mutilation (FMG) internationally. 

The application will be delivered to Finland’s Minister of Science and Culture, Sari Multala. The application submitted on the International Day of the Girl Child is a concrete action aimed at protecting girls and women from extreme violence. FGM is a global issue, affecting over 200 million girls and women worldwide. According to a recent study by the University of Birmingham, 44,000 girls and women die annually as a result of FGM. Every minute, six girls are mutilated. 

“For a subject to be included on UNESCO World Heritage List, its unique universal value must be demonstrated. Without the female genitalia, no person would exist. Female genital mutilation is an international problem that causes serious health issues and systematically undermines the societal position of women. Therefore, the female genitalia should be recognized and protected by an internationally acknowledged entity,” comments Saara Manelius, Head of Communications at International Solidarity Foundation.

UNESCO World Heritage sites are considered to be universally valuable to an extent that their protection and preservation are the responsibility of all humankind. UNESCO World Heritage sites include, among others, the Great Wall of China and the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru.

Female genital mutilation is extreme violence against girls and women. It is a manifestation of inequality as well as a human rights violation with far-reaching consequences on a woman’s life. FGM causes numerous psychological, emotional, and physical health issues and can ultimately lead to death. 

“FGM is extreme control over women’s bodies. It aims to define who and what a woman can be. Therefore, the experience of FGM can have a profoundly negative impact on a person’s self-image, in addition to physical health issues,” says human rights activist Aja Daffeh.

The International Solidarity Foundation is an expert in anti-FGM work, operating in East Africa in Kenya, Somaliland, and Ethiopia, with the goal of ending FGM worldwide. The organisation works closely with local communities, experts, authorities, and religious leaders. The foundation of their work is to change attitudes, enabling the abandonment of traditions that control women and girls, such as FGM.

Everyone can participate in the fight against FGM by donating and spreading awareness about the issue on social media and within their own circles.


Meri Saarivirta
Communications and media
Communications agency United Imaginations/International Solidarity Foundation
+358 50 576 7087