Country: Mali    

Population: 16.5 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

88.5% & 2.8 million women cut (15+)

Data Source MICS 2010
15 – 49 (%) 88.5
15 - 19 (%) 87.7
45 - 49 (%) 88.5
Urban (%) 89.1
Rural (%) 88.2
Lowest Region (%) 3.5
Highest Region (%) 97.8
Nicked, no flesh removed (%) 14.3
Flesh removed (%) 55.1
Sewn closed (%) 2.4
Traditionally performed (%) 91.8
Medically performed (%) 1.3
National law Legal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

Type I and II - 75.8%

Type III – 2.4%

Type IV – 14.3%

Legal status:

There is currently no law prohibiting FGC in Mali.

History of FGC in Mali

In Mali, FGC crosses religious, ethnic, age and geographic lines. The Muslim Songhai, Tuareg and Moor populations generally do not practice any form of FGC. The practice varies among other ethnic groups by age, religion or level of education.

In 1999 the Ministry of Health banned the practice of FGC in public health clinics. Later in 2002, a national programme that was part of the Ministry of Woman Promotion, Child and Family was created - the Programme National de lutte contre l’excision (PNLE) - and was ready to pass a law banning FGC. However, this law was withdrawn after facing opposition from influential religious leaders.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

In recent years, advocacy groups and prominent leaders have begun to challenge this traditional practice. The Association Malienne pour le Suivi et l’Orientation des Pratiques Traditionnelles (AMSOPT) was formed as the national chapter of the Inter-African Committee. It focuses on educating youth and religious leaders throughout Mali about the side effects of FGC.

UNICEF has been significantly involved in addressing the issue of FGC in Mali. In 2010 they supported a mobile cinema which travelled from village to village in remote areas of Mali. They screened entertaining and educational videos which aimed to encourage communities to openly discuss children’s and women’s health. More recently, government information campaigns focussing on the risks associated with FGC have reached citizens throughout the country. There has been a reduction of FGC prevalence among children of educated parents.

Tostan has also been working in Mali. In 2013, 24 rural communities publicly abandoned FGC, and in 2014 a further 14 urban communities representing 60,000 people followed suit.

Ongoing challenges:

Agents of change face resistance on a daily basis in Mali, as the traditional practice is kept alive by both men and women. One in three girls and women think FGC is necessary for social acceptance, and one in four believe it is a religious requirement. Deep set traditions make FGC increasingly difficult to abandon. This is reflected in the acceptance of FGC, as 73% of women and girls believe FGC should continue, as do 69% of boys and men. There is also little decline in the rate of FGC, as 89% of women aged 45-49 have been cut, compared to 88% of 15-19 year olds.

Political, economic and social unrest in the country means that people living in Mali may be more concerned with day-to-day survival rather than focussing on the abandonment of FGC.

Ethnic groups:

Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke)

Peul 17%

Votaic 12%

Songhai 6%

Tuareg and Moor 10%

Other 5%


French (official)




Major religions:

Islam 94.8%

Christian 2.4%

Animist 2%

In the news:

Daily Mail - FGC abandonment declarations taking place in 4 West African countries, including Mali

Mail Online - The effect FGC has on women and girls, and what people need to end the practice

Plan - How working with communities in Mali will end FGC

Women's News - Local grocer and his mother advocate against FGC from his small shop

Mali Actu - Pratique de l’excision à Kita: Les exciseuses de Karaya Kofoulabé renoncent définitivement aux couteaux!

Mali Actu  - Excision au Mali : La Commune de Bendougouba renonce au couteau de l’excision

The Voice - Woman who suffered FGC shares experience

Washington Post - Mali communities denounce female genital cutting

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