The UK has pledged £50,000,000 of aid funding to tackle the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) across Africa.
The money – which the government says is the biggest single investment worldwide by any international donor – is to boost a pledge to end the brutal procedure worldwide by 2030.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said FGM in the UK could not be stopped without it ending across the world.
Charities have welcomed the move but cautioned much more needed to be done to stop violence against women.
Ms Mordaunt said: Somewhere in the world, every seven seconds, a girl is at risk of FGM.
Inspirational, courageous African women are leading efforts to end the practice in their own countries, and thanks to them, more communities are starting to abandon the practice.
But progress is at a critical juncture and we must work to protect the millions of girls that are still at risk of being cut. We also cant end FGM in the UK without ending it globally.
I am proud UK aid is supporting the growing Africa-led movement against FGM and empowering women and girls in some of the worlds poorest countries to stand against the practice.
FGM is a harmful traditional practice involving the cutting or removal of the external female genitals.
It has existed for more than 2,000 years and is performed on girls from birth up until around the age of 15.
It is practiced in around 30 countries globally, mainly in Africa, some parts of Asia and the Middle East.
Globally more than 200,000,000 girls are at risk.
There is absolutely no medical or religious justification for the act, which in the UK is deemed as a form of child abuse and has been illegal since 1985.
It is also now against the law to take a child abroad to be cut and protection orders can be granted to youngsters at risk.
City University estimates there are 137,000 girls and women living with FGM in England and Wales and a further 144,000 girls at risk.
But while it has been illegal in the UK for over 30 years, there has yet to be a single successful prosecution.
The money pledged by the UK will be spent on work to change attitudes, support grassroots initiatives, work with the United Nations and governments to outlaw the practice , and support for medics.
A total of £15,000,000 will go towards expanding the Department for International Developments work in Sudan, where prevalence of FGM is high but attitudes – especially among older generations – are starting to change.
ActionAid welcomed the money but cautioned a wider approach to tackling female violence was needed across Africa.
Anne Quesney, ActionAids senior womens rights advocacy adviser, said: From our work in nine African countries, we have seen how this life-threatening practice not only impacts on girls lives and health, it limits their futures.
Many girls never return to school and are forced into early marriage, for example.
However, focusing on FGM alone is not enough… If we seriously want to eliminate violence against women and girls, we urgently need a holistic, well-resourced approach to tackling gender inequality more widely.
Last month the Home Office announced a campaign in the UK to clamp down on FGM.