Evidence to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

UKAID, Population Council

The Challenge

PRB’s role on this project was to help overcome common challenges to ensuring that research evidence is seen, understood, and used by decisionmakers to influence program design, policy changes, or resource investments to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Typical barriers can include research uptake not being given sufficient attention or resources at the outset; limited awareness, interest, buy-in, and ownership by key stakeholders; lack of motivated and influential champions; information packaged in difficult-to-digest academic formats using technical language and jargon; and a lack of practical tools or assistance that can help others apply research in practice.

PRB’s systematic approach to fostering research uptake by “starting with the end in mind” helps researchers learn how to conduct their research differently with an eye to creating impact. We also supported the project by creating compelling knowledge products that conveyed key findings and recommended actions to decisionmakers.


The Project

Led by the Population Council in Nairobi, in partnership with several global and country-based institutions, the project ran from March 2015 to February 2020 and conducted research for five years across four key themes:

  1. Building the picture: Where, when, and why is FGM/C practiced, and are these changing?
  2. Abandonment interventions: What is working, where, and why?
  3. What are the wider impacts of FGM/C?
  4. Measurement: What are valid measures of change?

One of the things that Population Reference Bureau helped us in very well is to think about your audiences, the diverse audiences, from the start, not at the end.

Nafisa Bedri, Professor of Reproductive Health at Ahfad University for Women (Sudan)

Our Role

One of PRB’s primary roles was to support the project’s workstream on research uptake by building the capacity of researchers in the consortium to effectively communicate their findings to decisionmakers so that they could effect positive change for policies, programs, and strategic investments. As such, we worked with researchers to identify key decisionmakers, craft policy-relevant questions and designs, develop plans to keep decisionmakers engaged throughout the research process, craft compelling messages, and plan for dissemination. PRB also provided technical assistance and created several compelling written and digital products to communicate key findings and the project’s legacy messages to global and national audiences in visually appealing and accessible ways.


PRB’s work on evidence uptake for Evidence to End FGM/C contributed to some important legacies for the project, including increased demand for evidence from health professionals, associations, regulatory bodies, and program implementers. As a result of Consortium staff bringing together key players working on FGM/C in their respective countries and communicating evidence effectively, the consortium’s work has become part of the FGM/C response in much of Africa.

By distilling research in easy-to-understand language and formats for targeted non-technical audiences, the consortium was able to share information through a variety of channels to influence decisionmakers, including conference presentations, workshops, peer-reviewed journal articles, webinars, print and broadcast media, consortium members’ websites, videos, briefs, blogs, and social media.

As a result of the new approaches they’ve taken, many of the country teams have achieved important results. For example, some were invited to national-level strategic thinking and planning sessions for FGM. One team influenced the inclusion of FGM in a medical school curriculum in Egypt, and others guided high-level investment decisions based on statistical modeling estimates.

'Our end goal is that our results–the findings–be used'

Reflections From Five Years of Research

Multiple Evidence to End FGM/C consortium members and advisors discuss their experience with the project:

“It’s really unique in the sense that we are saying–we need to have methods besides the health surveys that then we can use to sort of triangulate and give us an idea of whether, really, prevalence is going down,” said Agnes Meroka-Mutua,Lecturer, School of Law and Africa Coordinating Centre for the Abandonment of FGM/C, Univeristy of Nairobi, Kenya.


Evidence to End FGM/C Consortium Members and Advisors