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Numbers of Women Circumcised in Africa: The Production of a Total (English)

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Publication ID:


Publication Date:

March 2008



Document Type:

Working Papers

Publication Topic(s):

Female Genital Cutting


P. Stanley Yoder and Shane Khan and Macro International Inc. Calverton, Maryland, USA


This report was written in response to a request from the World Health Organziation's Division of Family & Community Health, Department of Reproductive Health & Research, Gender, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health & Adolescence team (FCH/RHR/GRR) to produce an estimate of the number of women in Africa who have been circumcised, or have undergone female genital cutting (FGC)___________________________________________________________


Numerous international organizations have estimated the “number of women and girls worldwide” who have undergone female genital cutting (FGC), but those estimates vary widely and do not include information on how the numbers were obtained. Given the limitations of the data on FGC in some African countries, the team at Macro agreed to provide a number, but a number for women 15 years old and older, not one for “women and girls worldwide.” In order to provide a methodological context for that number, the authors have also written a brief report about how the numbers were produced for each country.

Readers can then judge for themselves if the calculations seemed reasonable. In countries where FGC data are available from a national survey with a representative sample of women, most often from a Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), the calculations are straightforward. Where such data are lacking, the calculations involve a series of assumptions related to the various estimates available and the ethnic composition of the population.

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