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Indicator Name, Target and Goal

Indicator 5.3.2: Proportion of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, by age

Target 5.3: Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Definition and Rationale


This indicator is defined as the percentage of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting. 


Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.  

Rationale and Interpretation:

FGM/C is a violation of girls’ and women’s human rights. There is a large body of literature documenting the adverse health consequences of FGM/C over both the short and long term. The practice of FGM/C is a direct manifestation of gender inequality.

FGM/C is condemned by a number of international treaties and conventions. Since FGM/C is regarded as a traditional practice prejudicial to the health of children and is, in most cases, performed on minors, it violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Existing national legislation in many countries also include explicit bans against FGM/C.

The monitoring of this indicator over time is expected to help observe change in affected countries and assess the effectiveness of policy interventions to eliminate this harmful practice.

Data Sources and Collection Method

This data is collected through national household surveys which have questions in which women aged 15 to 49 self-report their experience of FGM/C, and report on their daughters’ experience of the practice (for daughters aged 0-14). These surveys are generally conducted by the ministries of health or national statistical offices. The most commonly available sources of nationally representative and internationally comparable data are the UNICEF-supported MICS and the USAID-supported DHS. 

Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations

Computation Method:

The proportion of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone FGM/C (PFGM/C) can be calculated as:



 is the number of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone FGM/C; and

 is the total number of girls and women aged 15-49 years. 

The indicator can similarly be calculated for smaller age cohorts, including among girls aged 15-19 years, which represents the most recent estimate of prevalence since this is the age group which has most recently completed exposure to the risk period. 

Comments and limitations:

The modules used to collect information on the FGM/C status of girls aged 0-14 years and girls and women aged 15-49 years have been fully harmonized between the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).  Please see the statistical overview reference below for more details on methodological issues. 

Proxy, alternative and additional indicators: N/A

Data Disaggregation

This indicator is required to be disaggregated by age, and is typically reported among five-year age cohorts from 15 to 49 years. However, it can also be disaggregated by income, place of residence, geographic location, education and ethnicity (for some countries). 


Official SDG Metadata URL  

Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL 

Other references
UNICEF Briefing Notes on SDG Indicators:
UNICEF. Briefing notes on SDG global indicators related to children. Available at

Additional References:
UNICEF. Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting. New York. Available at:

United Nations Children’s Fund, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change, UNICEF, New York, 2013. Available at: 

WHO.  Eliminating female genital mutilation. An intraagency statement. Available at: 

Country examples

International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring

This document was prepared based on inputs from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

For focal point information for this indicator, please visit

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