In July 2016, Plan International started the CHANGE Agent Training in Hamburg. The training sessions, which are part of the CHANGE Plus Project, focus on different behaviour change steps, such as terminology, communication about FGM/C in families, religious beliefs, and choice and consent. Gwladys Awo, project coordinator and community manager of Plan International, is leading the trainings.
The CHANGE Agents come from different countries like Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Afghanistan. Following the trainings, they will do sensibilisation and intervention activities concerning FGM/C within their diaspora communities. So far, the CHANGE Agents have learned about Gender and Women’s Rights, FGM/C and Legal Issues, Communication Skills and Conflict Management, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Health Issues of FGM/C, as well as Culture, Tradition, Identity and Religion.
In TERRE DES FEMMES’ CHANGE Agent Training on the 5th of November 2016, the gynaecologist Dr. Christoph Zerm was guest lector. For over 20 years now he dedicated himself to FGM/C and is one of the few experts of this issue in Germany. Dr. Zerm talked about health issues of FGM/C. The Agents were very interested in his lecture and the pictures he showed; for example of one surgery he did due to a tumour formation as a consequence of FGM/C. Dr. Zerm answered all upcoming questions of the CHANGE Agents in detail, e. g. questions on FGM/C and pregnancy or on other reconstructive surgeries.
CHANGE Plus coordinators Charlotte Weil and Linda Ederberg as well as Idah Nabateregga, who will be training the CHANGE Agents at TERRE DES FEMMES and Gwladys Awo, who is responsible for the implementation of CHANGE Plus at Plan Stiftung, had the great occasion to meet up with the project’s patron Fatoumata Siré Diakité during her stay in Germany this week. This meeting was all the more refreshing as until now, the only contact between the project coordination in Berlin and the patron in Bamako had been via email.
Over the past months, the Change Plus team has produced a new Training Manual for facilitators. First developed within CHANGE pilot Project, the manual has been revised and updated. Its overall aim is to enable facilitators to conduct trainings for multipliers promoting behavior change in communities across the European Union. It is designed as a good practice guide in an application-oriented way and so presents several information on legal, medical, social, religious or cultural issues related to FGM through case studies, exercises, references and further resources.
The Training Manual is divided into 3 parts. The first one is an introduction to CHANGE Plus and to its Behaviour Change Approach. The second part gathers 13 modules on how to shape workshops and trainings, which topics to deal with and which exercises to employ. And the third and last part holds further information and resources on FGM.
The Training Manual will be also useful for community workers, NGOs, governments and other relevant stakeholders since it brings together various European experiments.
On 3rd and 4th of March 2016, TERRE DES FEMMES hosted the official kick-off meeting of the CHANGE Plus project at their head office in Berlin. All of the European project partners – AIDOS, APF, Coventry University, End FGM, Equipop, FSAN and Plan Stiftung – participated in the meeting and contributed to its success.
After a brief welcoming speech by TDF’s Executive Director Christa Stolle, all participants introduced themselves and their organisation, as well as their role within the CHANGE Plus project and their personal expectations for the meeting. This was followed by presentations on the over all goals and strategies of CHANGE Plus and specific elements of the first three Workstreams of the project, such as management and coordination, community mapping and project evaluation. As the training of the CHANGE Agents and the Behaviour Change Activities will be discussed in detail during the next meeting in Amsterdam this autumn, the project partners only discussed the call for applications for the future CHANGE Agents as well as their role and duties. Furthermore, the participants extensively discussed the new modules for the training manual and agreed on necessary revisions of the already existing prevention brochure. In the evening, the first day of the meeting finished off with a joint dinner.
The Kick-off meeting of the two-year EU funded CHANGE Plus project will be held on 3rd and 4th of March 2016. It takes place at TERRE DES FEMMES’ Federal Head Office in Berlin.
The partner organisations Stiftung Hilfe mit Plan from Hamburg/Germany, FSAN from the Netherlands, APF from Portugal, Équipop from France, AIDOS from Italy and the Coventry University from London/UK as well as the European network End FGM will come to Berlin to discuss the strategies and activities of CHANGE Plus as well as the first steps already done in the project.
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.
The European Commission has awarded TERRE DES FEMMES and the project partnership with new funds to continue working with CHANGE Agents in several EU countries.
Starting date for CHANGE Plus is on 15th of January 2016.
Project partners are Plan Stiftung in Hamburg, EquiPoP in France, FSAN in the Netherlands, the Coventry University, UK and APF, Portugal, AiDos in Italy and the European Network End-FGM.
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