Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a human rights violation and a form of "gender-based violence" which has impacted the lives of millions of women and girls around the world, especially on the African continent. FGM is defined to include "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons", and contributes to negative maternal, physical, and psychological health outcomes. Complications resulting from FGM can include excessive bleeding, severe pain, infection, and even death.

Considering the most recent data and across key indicators – including the 0 to 14 years and 15 to 49 years age brackets – the prevalence of FGM in Africa is from 1% to 97%. As a result, more than 50 million girls in Africa are at risk of undergoing this injurious practice if concerted actions are not taken. Further, given the disastrous consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional two million cases of FGM are estimated by 2030.

Emerging lessons reveal there are varied generational changes between and within countries and regions which include shifts, especially in border towns, in how FGM is practiced, associated with the response to laws and policies against it. Increasing community engagement, especially that of women and youth, leveraging innovation and media exposure is altering the social underpinnings of FGM.

To accelerate the elimination of FGM, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Joint Program on the Elimination of FGM continues to prioritize strategies aimed at catalyzing positive social change for the abandonment of the practice. Created in 2007, the Joint Program is the largest global program aimed at accelerating the elimination of FGM. Currently, in its fourth phase, it focuses on contributing to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 and particularly target 3, seeking to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage, and FGM by 2030. UNFPA anticipates a one-third reduction towards achieving the elimination of FGM by 2030. Since its inception, it has helped more than 5.5 million girls and women receive prevention, protection, and care services related to FGM. Some 42.5 million people in more than 30,182 communities in 15 countries with high FGM prevalence have made public declarations to abandon the harmful practice.

UNFPA also helps to strengthen health-care services to prevent FGM and treat the complications that ensue from the practice. UNFPA also works with civil society organizations that engage in community-led education and dialogue sessions that focus on health and human rights. The Joint Program works with religious and traditional leaders to de-link FGM from religion and to generate support for abandonment, engaging and working with media to foster dialogue about the practice and to change perceptions of girls who remain uncut.

UNFPA working together with the joint program has initiated the FGM innovation HackLabs project that is engaging young people to initiate innovative solutions to contribute to ending FGM and harmful practices across Africa. The project in 2021 identified over 100 innovation solutions, providing seed funding of up to $70,000 and 6 months of business incubation support to scale these solutions into viable products across the continent. In all over 1million young people were engaged with information about FGM innovation.

In 2022, UNFPA and the UNICEF/UNFPA Joint program on FGM are launching the 2022 version of the project (building on the successes of the 2021 hackLab) that will seek to engage over 100 innovation incubation/accelerator hubs across Africa which will lead to engaging over 1000 innovators working fervently to ideate FGM innovation solutions to reach over 1M young people, initiate over 200 innovation solutions and scale collective response from young people in Africa.

Ending FGM by 2030 would require redoubling evidence-based efforts and innovation.

Objectives and Outcomes

STRETCH – HUBS HACK: The UNFPA Hubs Hack will source innovative solutions to accelerate collective efforts to end FGM across Africa. The Hubs Hack will engage incubator and accelerator Hubs across Africa to tap into their resource of innovators and innovation solutions to pitch the best solutions to contribute to ending FGM in Africa. Each Hub will run an internal selection process and submit at least 2 innovation solutions to the continental challenge. The best solutions will receive scale funding and business support to take the solution to investment readiness. The Hubs Hack will ultimately:

  • Identify next-generation innovation solutions by applying the UN principles of innovation to accelerate efforts towards ending harmful practices especially FGM
  • Identify and build the capacity of a network of innovation (incubator/accelerator) hubs to champion FGM innovation in their community
  • Mobilize community (innovation ecosystem) support for innovators to champion the campaign against FGM
Challenge Timeline

Eligibility Criteria
Innovative Solutions 
The Hub must be a legally registered entity in a UNFPA program country and have efficient financial systems including audited finances. (Submit audited financial statements for previous year)
Align with the UNFPAs Transformative Results and/core mandate and Align with the UN principles of innovation
be individuals (young people) representing social enterprises and not-for-profit organizations including academic and research institutions.
At the time of application, the Hub and any of its individual members, are not under procurement prohibitions derived from the Compendium of United Nations Security Council Sanctions Lists and have not been suspended, debarred, sanctioned, or otherwise identified as ineligible by any UN Organization or the World Bank Group.
Be scalable and commercially viable solutions. Solutions that are adaptable to other contexts with little financial inject requires
The submitted solutions must be owned by an innovator(s) attached to the applying Hub with a demonstrable relationship with the innovator.
Women and girls are strongly encouraged to apply.
The applying hub must
Align with the opportunity area identified
Innovation teams cannot be represented by more than 3 members. We expect the represented team members will transfer knowledge to other team members.
Demonstrate that the solution is novel in the UNFPA program country and/or globally
Have a demonstrable capacity to empower women and youth.
Innovation teams must demonstrate an agile growth and learning mindset, including a willingness to pivot and adapt. Refer to the UN principles for innovation
Demonstrate capacity with a clear plan for incubating the solution to scale (Submit report of any incubation/acceleration work done)
Be tested with a viable pathway for scale
Teams must be able to commit to the full scale of the project.
Proof of more than 2 innovators being supported by the Hub (not necessarily related to UNFPA mandate) - Proof of onboarding Innovators.
Be based in a UNFPA program country
Teams must be willing to adjust their solution with other innovators if advised by the business advisory partners
Willing to showcase your business through communication platforms to be determined by UNFPA

Where do you come in?

The 2022 Hubs Hack targets Hubs. Innovators willing to apply MUST align with an innovation incubator or accelerator Hub to apply on their behalf. ONLY APPLICATIONS FROM HUBS will be considered.

  • Hubs will prepare innovators within the supervision and submit 'game-changing' solutions on behalf of the innovators. Each hub can submit up to 2 solutions ONLY.
  • Submitted solutions will be assessed by an expert panel put together by UNFPA (internal + external stakeholders) and partners
  • Submitted solutions will have to align with the country priorities of the UNFPA Country Offices within the applying country.
  • 2 ideas will emerge from the HackLab following a 'pitch night' virtual event

To ensure viability and sustainability, hubs:

  1. Proof of incorporation in the applying country
  2. Proof of financial management capacity
  3. Proof of operation as an accelerator and/or incubator hub
  4. will submit 2 solutions per hub. Hubs will provide proof of an internal review and selection process.
  5. Proof + plan to support innovators with the solution growth
  6. will prepare innovators to pitch their solutions at the final event
  7. Selected hubs are expected to complete all phases of the program which will include a bootcamp, virtual pitch events, in person award at the FGM Innovation Forum.

pooled fund: $60,000 in seed funds will be available for 2 emerging hubs to grow the emerging solutions. The funds will be disbursed based on agreed milestones and clearly defined needs assessment. Hubs will be expected to account for the disbursement of the funds.

Coaching + mentoring + network building: Hubs will be provided additional coaching and mentoring by identified business coaches. The coaches will assess and advise on the submitted incubation/acceleration plan submitted by the Hubs. A network of hubs will emerge to create a peer support system to facilitate learning and sharing as well as collective ecosystem growth.

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Opportunity areas

UNFPA has taken the eradication of FGM and other harmful practices seriously and has led a number of interventions to prevent its occurrence. The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Program to Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the largest global program to accelerate the abandonment of this harmful traditional practice and thereby advance the rights, health, and well-being of women and girls. The program has catalyzed a global movement to eliminate FGM and has shown an unparalleled ability to effect change also at the regional, subregional, national, and community levels. 

Through the financial support of the Spotlight Initiative Africa Regional Program (SIARP), UNFPA is calling young people, especially adolescents and girls, to submit innovative solutions which will contribute to halting and preventing FGM and other harmful practices in the communities and/or across Africa. We encourage you to share with us EXISTING bold and scalable solutions including potentially commercially viable solutions that can really help achieve the goal of zero GBV and FGM within communities. We welcome solutions in the following areas:

Increasing the skills and capabilities of girls and communities to lead the change

  • Empower girls to take leadership in the fight against FGM
  • Develop girls and young women's digital skills and literacy
  • Utilize the power of storytelling (all forms including digital media) to prevent and respond to FGM and empower young women and girls

Changing Social, Cultural & Gender Norms that encourage FGM

  • Improve family decision making for girls' empowerment.
  • Engage men and boys in the eradication of FGM
  • Increase community engagement and religious leaders' involvement in the eradication of FGM
  • Increase youth and women's organizations involvement and collaboration in the eradication of FGM
  • Empower FGM survivors to rehabilitate and use their experience to lead and inform the advocacy to change harmful social norms
  • Meaningful engagement of cultural leaders and elders on Alternative Rites of Passages (ARP)
  • Intensify multi-media campaigns (including emerging media) on social norms in targeted communities to end FGM
  • Reward system for communities that combat FGM

Improving access to health services (health, social, legal) for victims of FGM

  • Use technology solutions (mobile apps) in sharing information and accessing services
  • Improve 'survivor centered' health care services to respond to the needs of women and girls to eliminate FGM:
  • Quality referrals and linkages between services, health, education, police, justice, social services, shelters, psycho-social support.
  • Service Quality/Readiness - to prevent, respond to, and mitigate the consequences of FGM (address medicalization of FGM)
  • Integrate Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and other services into response plans (ex. response to the effect of COVID 19 on FGM prevention efforts in communities).

Improve Data collection, analysis, coordination and dissemination systems (use of technology is encouraged)

  • Facilitate coordination of FGM data collection and sharing among different actors (health facility, social services, police) for improved service delivery
  • Use technology to create a comprehensive data collection, processing and dissemination. Real time data platform to inform FGM preventive and response interventions.
  • Use emerging digital technology to map and/or geolocate prevention and care service delivery points and providers, declared public abandoned FGM communities
  • Build adaptive (contextual, community issues) systems to evaluate the impact of FGM to communities and economies.
  • Inclusion of FGM indicators in National Health Management Information System (NHMIS), to institutionalize the collection of FGM data by health workers at the primary health care facilities.
  • Capacity building of Health workers as surveillance teams to monitor and track pregnant women and girls at risk of FGM.
  • Establish local surveillance systems, after public declarations of abandonment of FGM, to sustain collective commitment to abandonment

Prevention of cross border FGM (where caregivers move girls across the border to countries with less/no punitive laws - especially in border communities in endemic areas).

  • Enhance FGM prevention and response services within government departments/institutions in collaboration with different Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Women Rights Organizations (WROs), and other FGM practicing communities.
  • Improve inter-country partnership and collaboration, especially among key government and law enforcement agencies

Improve the legal environment (Law & Policy) to support the fight against FGM

  • Foster collaboration amongst government agencies & awareness among target communities (education, health, judiciary, law enforcement etc) to prevent and protect girls from FGM
  • Awareness building about existing policies, laws and institutions available to support the prevention of FGM especially within the FGM practicing communities include cross border FGM

Humanitarian Approach (Click link for more details)

  • Build capacity of development partners in the fight against
  • Ensure visibility of the impact of FGM in humanitarian and fragile settings.
  • Integrate FGM prevention and response services as part of the SRHR -GBV response in humanitarian and fragile settings. Ensure quality FGM referral pathways in fragile/ humanitarian contexts.
  • Enhance the capacity of humanitarian actors/services providers on FGM
Evaluation Process

The Hubs will be evaluated based on the below criteria:

  • Potential impact on accelerating efforts towards ending FGM in Africa – Reach and scale of solution; Impact on the identified gap; Accessibility of beneficiaries/communities; Impact on quality, cost, and the effectiveness of services.
  • Operational plan and indicators of success – SMART KPIs and milestones; Demonstrable use of evidence and data to inform product design and operations; impact documentation and dissemination plan; Documentation of failures and lessons learned.
  • Scalability - Exponential scale strategy; Solution addresses a clear problem/need across contexts and other locations; Solution demonstrates the ability to use existing infrastructure and/or resources; Hub is willing and able to replicate the solution in other contexts.
  • Team and key personnel – Demonstrable expertise of key personnel; Demonstrable connections with local stakeholders, including the UNFPA Country Office; Diversity of team; Clear organogram and division of roles and responsibilities.
  • Budget – Alignment of costs and overall budget with milestones; Realistic cost estimates – competitive pricing; Matching funds and/or investment by pitching Hub; Capacity to sustain solution beyond UNFPA support; Fit with overall corporate mission.
  • Concept and Solution - Hub clearly describes the solution. Alignment with the TR and the defined opportunity area; definition of beneficiaries and novelty of the solution.
  • Incubation/acceleration plan -Clear incubation/acceleration plan with coaching and mentoring support. Demonstrable functionality of the prototype, evidence, and results from testing.
  • Potential to Scale - Clear path to scale; alignment to the corporate mission.
  • Communication – Effective impact dissemination plan; Documentation of learning.
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For questions:

For further questions please contact Georgina Edwards, Innovation and Knowledge Management Analyst, at

Judging Criteria



Ensure your proposal is aligned with the sponsor's mission and meets all criteria



Great proposals will start with the right problem and address a real painpoint



Fulfill a costly need in the market and showcase your product or service differentation



Proposals must include great ideas, but also produce sustainable business value



Thoroughly research the risks and provide details on how they might be addressed



A team with relevant experience and expertise can set a proposal apart from the rest.

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