The EU Parliament estimates that up to 500,000 girls and women in the European Union are affected by FGM and another 180,000 are at risk of being subjected to the practice. To protect these girls and women, TERRE DES FEMMES is coordinating the international two-year project CHANGE Plus which aims at promoting behaviour change towards the abandonment of FGM in practising communities in the EU. The project will be implemented together with the partner organisations Plan Stiftungszentrum in Hamburg/Germany, Federatie van Somalische Associaties Nederland (FSAN) in the Netherlands, Associação para o Planeamento da Família (APF) in Portugal, Équilibres & Populations (ÉquiPop) in France, Associazione Italiana Donne per lo Sviluppo (AIDoS) in Italy and the Coventry University in London/UK. The European network End FGM is involved in CHANGE Plus for the EU-wide dissemination of the project’s results.
Understanding and Reaching the Communities
As in the previous CHANGE project, CHANGE Plus builds on the behaviour change approach developed in the EU-project REPLACE FGM. To identify different beliefs and attitudes towards FGM within the different communities, the Coventry University will lead a community mapping to evaluate the communities’ readiness for change regarding FGM, so that the following activities will be individually adapted to the particular community.
48 persons of influence from different African communities in Europe will be recruited (6 in Berlin, 6 in Paris, 12 in Hamburg, 12 in Lisbon, 12 in Amsterdam) by the partner organisations and trained on issues related to FGM. As multipliers, so-called CHANGE Agents, they afterwards sensitise their community to legal, cultural, religious, social and health dimensions of FGM in order to promote behaviour change.
Targeting the Political and Institutional Level
The CHANGE Plus project also focuses on building an enabling environment for the protection of girls and women at risk by targeting the institutional and political level. Therefore, 8 of the previous project’s CHANGE Agents will pass a special Leadership Programme to become so-called CHANGE Champions. As CHANGE Champions they will act as mentors for the new CHANGE Agents as well as doing advocacy work at local and national level, seeking dialogue with key professionals and politicians.
Exchange of Experiences with African Organisations
The West-African organisations Plan Mali and Bangr Nooma in Burkina Faso are involved in the project as associated partners. They will exchange experiences in the community-based work against FGM with the CHANGE Agents via Skype conferences, so that bridges between Africa and Europe will be built. Further, they will share their information materials on FGM with the CHANGE Plus partners, so that they can be used for the training and community work.