Traditional Leaders in Liberia Make Historic Announcement Declaring Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

Genital Mutilation Liberia

Genital Mutilation

Safe Hands for Girls (  – represented by the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Jaha Dukureh – and Equality Now ( wish to congratulate Chief Zanzan Karwor, the Chairperson of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders in Liberia (, and the entire council for declaring a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Liberia on the 6th of February 2023.

In a ground breaking declaration made on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, Chief Zanzan with the authorization of 15 paramount Chiefs across Liberia declared (, “By the power vested in me by all the Paramount Chiefs of the 15 political divisions in Liberia and signed by myself… FGM is banned in Liberia.”

Chief Zanzan on the occasion explained that the elaborate ceremonies and rituals undertaken in the lead up to the Zero Tolerance Day celebration were carried out in order to get authorization from the zoes (the traditional cutters who perform FGM), elders and chiefs to ban the practice in the whole country.

The momentous pronouncement was made at an event held in Songay town, Liberia,  and was witnessed and supported by high level officials, including Vice President Hon. Jewel Howard-Taylor (, Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection Hon. Williametta E.Saydee-Tarr (, UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa Jaha Dukureh (, and members from the diplomatic corps representing the European Union, United States of America, Sweden, Norway, Cuba, and Nigeria representing the ECOWAS community.

Also present was the Liberia Country Representative of UN Women, which has supported the establishment of heritage centers – including in Songay town where the celebrations were held – to serve as a place for alternative livelihood for the zoes who are abandoning the practice.

“The traditional leaders have paved the way for us by giving us the first step in the journey to ending FGM in Liberia. We are greatly honored and thank them,” Vice President of Liberia, Hon. Jewel Howard-Taylor said in appreciation of the trailblazing declaration.

We acknowledge the efforts made over the years towards ending FGM in Liberia and wish to congratulate the Government leadership in this area, members of Liberian Civil Society, and the broader human rights community. We believe that their collective efforts have brought us to this moment, including through destigmatization of discussions about FGM in the public space. We laud and commend all who have been part of the journey.

The declaration by Chief Zanzan Karwor gives this campaign much needed impetus as it is at the heart of the matter. The custodian and practitioners of the harmful practice of FGM, in a public display of courage, with pomp and circumstance, are laying down their tools and choosing to ‘evolve’ their culture to initiate girls but not mutilate them.

We hope that this laudable effort by the traditional leaders also acts a fillip for Liberian Parliament to finally pass an anti-FGM law, and we pledge our support in turn to work towards a robust legislation against FGM in Liberia and ultimately towards zero cases of FGM in the country.

Subscribe to our newsletter for latest news and updates. You can disable anytime.