NYMC Faculty Publications

Female Genital Cutting in the Gambia: Can Education of Women Bring Change?

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Journal of Public Health

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Health Policy and Management


BACKGROUND: In the Gambia, three out of four women of reproductive age have undergone Female Genital Cutting (FGC). Many studies and policy advocates suggest that for such a practice that is deeply rooted in culture, a more holistic approach focusing on educating the population will have sustainable impact. This research examined whether educational level of women has an association with their attitude towards the practice of FGC.

METHODS: Data from the 2013 Gambia Demographic Health Survey (GDHS) were analyzed. The sample included 6217 households: 10,233 females aged between 15 to 49 years and 3831 males between 15-59 years. This study focused only on women participants. The outcome variable was the attitude of women toward the practice of FGC.

RESULTS: In multivariate regression model, women who were circumcised are found to have 80 times higher odds of supporting FGC [Odds Ratio = 80 (95% CI 50.93-124.4)] compared to uncircumcised women. Women with primary and secondary level education have lower odds of supporting FGC [OR = 0.73 (95% CI 0.915-0.007)) and those with higher education had the lowest odds [OR = 0.28 (95% CI 0.147-0.543)) of supporting FGC relative to women with no education at all.

CONCLUSIONS: Education and awareness programs targeting women who are married and older, those with less education and those who are already circumcised can help change attitudes towards the practice of FGC.