School of Population Health

African-Australian research collaboration to tackle female genital mutilation

Dr Blessing Akombi

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice that is associated with poor health outcomes and violates human rights. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut.  

A new collaborative research project between researchers and health professionals in Africa and Australia has been established to prevent FGM and improve care for affected women and girls.

FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, is practiced in 29 African nations and is prevalent in countries of migration including Australia.

A cross-continent approach is critical to tackle FGM, says Dr Blessing Akombi-Inyang, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a collaborator on the project.  

“We want to be an influential voice in policy and practice and build an African-Australian alliance to mitigate the devastating consequences of FGM,” said Dr Akombi-Inyang.  

“Through this research collaboration, we will be able to recommend effective policy options and education for health professionals, share lessons for prevention and care, and facilitate the implementation of good practice,” she said.   

“FGM is a form of violence against woman, and ultimately, we want to empower women and girls and help achieve gender equality by eliminating FGM, which is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Outputs of the multifaceted research project includes a series of workshops researching FGM, podcasts for health professionals focused on African countries of migration to Australia where the FGM is prevalent, and a commentary paper on cross-continent collaboration for FGM.  Understanding the burden of FGM, economic analysis, men and FGM, and integrating responses to FGM in health care system are some of the areas of focus of the research.  

The project is coordinated by the Australia-Africa Universities Network and funded by a grant from the Partnership and Research Development Fund. It involves a group of multi-disciplinary researchers, health professionals and civil society groups connected with the African Centre for the Abandonment of FGM, the University of Nairobi, and researchers at UTS, UNSW, the University of Sydney and other universities. Other collaborators include the NSW Health FGM Education Program, the Multicultural Centre for Women's Health and other not-for-profit organisations.

This project will also engage early career researchers and research students in Africa and Australia. 

Photo: Dr Blessing Akombi, Course Convenor, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine

Contact Name : 
Dr Blessing Akombi