CHANGE Champions will engage with European stakeholders to promote their claims for EU-wide action on ending FGM
On September 25th and 26th 2017, the Lobbying and Advocacy Event of the CHANGE Plus project will take place in Brussels. This is a major opportunity to bring our messages and demands across to the political and policy-making realm.
Our CHANGE Champions, the experienced community-based activists who have conducted multiple behaviour change activities and have been mentors to the new CHANGE Agents, have also been trained to engage with local/national and European politicians and key stakeholders to promote a better environment for the prevention of and the response to FGM. On September 26th, the CHANGE Champions will bring their policy demands to EU high-level stakeholders.
On November 23rd 2017, the CHANGE Plus project will conclude with a final conference in Berlin. The project partners, CHANGE Agents and Champions, representatives from the two West African associate partners, representatives from the EU Commission, and many more guests will come together for a conclusion and evaluation of the project and for an outlook on further effort to ending FGM.
The event will include a press event, keynote speeches, a panel discussion on the impact of the project as well as parallel roundtable discussions that each focus on specific aspects of FGM, prevention strategies or project evaluation.
In France, the Change Plus project is developing. The CHANGE Agents are on the ground since february 2017 for the phase of behaviour change activities. So far, we have had six of them in Paris and in the suburbs of Paris. The activities have taken various forms : movie debate, discussions, messages for social media communication. They adressed adults and youngsters from Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea which are FGM practising countries.
On April 20, 2017 the first behaviour change activity within the Gambian Community in Berlin took place. CHANGE Agent Isatou Barry invited family and friends for the baby shower of her new-born child and seized this opportunity of having many people gathered together to have a discussion on children rights and the protection of children, together with activist and musician Sister Fa (Fatou Diatta). Within the frame of children rights, they placed the topic of FGM. Isatou Barry and Sister Fa answered many questions and provided further input for a lively discussion, in which also the men present participated.
On April 29, 2017 the CHANGE Agents in Berlin got together for their fourth exchange meeting. This time, Sister Fa (Fatou Diatta), urban Soul and HipHop singer and activist against FGM in Senegal, invited them for delicious Sengalese food at her house. Together they shared experiences of their behaviour change activities and talked about the planning of future events.
Isatou Barry, CHANGE Agent from Gambia, talked about her first behaviour change activity and reported that many participants, especially the men, had been very grateful for receiving important information about the consequences of FGM. At the end, some emphasized that they (now) rejected the practice of FGM and that they would share the information about the harmful practice amongst their family and friends. Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet, CHANGE Agent from Cameroon, could not attend the exchange meeting as his first behaviour change activity, a discussion meeting with a few women and many men, took place simultaneously.
On March 31, 2017 the CHANGE Agents in Berlin got together for their third exchange meeting. Dr. Idah Nabateregga and Charlotte Weil from TERRE DES FEMMES (TDF) reported about the new developments within the CHANGE Plus project and the FGM department at TDF in general. Thereafter, the CHANGE Agents shared thoughts and ideas about their behaviour change activities, which they are preparing and planning this year.
On February 25, the CHANGE Agents in Berlin got together for an exchange meeting. Fadhumo Musa Afrah had already conducted her three behaviour change activities in January and February and now reported on the intra-communal discussion on FGM that she initiated. Fadhumo pointed out that the challenges for organizing the behaviour change activities lay mostly in the difficulty to mobilize community members to discuss FGM and join a meeting.
During the last months, CHANGE Agents in four European countries were trained to promote behaviour change towards the abandonment of FGM in practising communities within the European Union. The 48 CHANGE Agents – women and men belonging to various diaspora communities and to different social and age groups – were trained by APF in Portugal, by Equipop in France, by FSAN in the Netherlands, and by TDF (Berlin) and Plan (Hamburg) in Germany.