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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Over the last few weeks, the first training sessions were held by the European partner organisations. People from different African communities are trained on issues related to FGM to enable them to sensitise their own communities as a CHANGE Agent afterwards. Cultural, social, religious, legal and health dimensions of FGM are contents of the training.
After a general introduction to FGM and the CHANGE Plus project, the first training session dealt with gender and women’s rights. Objectives of the session were to understand that gender is a result of socialisation and to recognise the link between gender inequality and discriminatory power structures. CHANGE Agents should strongly believe in the empowerment of girls and women and the promotion of their rights and reject all gender-based violence, including FGM.
Over the coming months, 48 CHANGE Agents and 8 CHANGE Champions in total will be trained in four European countries to promote behaviour change towards the abandonment of FGM in practising communities within the EU.
On the 27th August the first training session for CHANGE Agents took place at TERRE DES FEMMES’ headquarter in Berlin. The seven Agents Colette Tchoumbou, Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet, Isatou Barry, Tiranke Diallo, Fadhumo Musa, Mai Ali and Fatou Diatta originally come from African countries with high FGM prevalence, e.g. Gambia, Guinea, Somalia and Sudan. All CHANGE Agents are active members of their respective communities in Berlin and they are all living in Germany for many years now. Over the coming months the CHANGE Agents will be trained on different issues of FGM. Idah Nabateregga, the Community Manager, will coordinate the whole sessions.
On 23rd of September 2016, FSAN was hosting the Coordination Meeting for all Project Partners of the CHANGE Plus project, which is co-funded by the European Union, in Amsterdam. All of the European project partners – TERRE DES FEMMES, AIDOS, APF, Coventry University, End FGM, Equipop, FSAN and Plan Stiftung – were participating in the meeting.
In the course of the CHANGE Plus project, which is co-funded by the EU, TERRE DES FEMMES and APF are organizing trainings to educate CHANGE Agents. After finishing the training the CHANGE Agents work as ambassadors of behavioral changes in their own communities. In total, 48 CHANGE Agents will be trained in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and France. The second session dealt with the concept of Gender as well as legal dimensions of FGM.
On Saturday 10th and 17th of September 2016 Equipop and FSAN held their very first training to the future CHANGE Agents in Paris and Amsterdam. After a warm welcome and exchanging mutual greetings, Aurélie Desrumaux, CHANGE Plus project coordinator for Equipop in Paris, and Zahra Naleie, project coordinator for FSAN who is also leading the trainings in Amsterdam, started the session and let the Agents introduce themselves. The CHANGE Agents are men and women coming from different African countries belonging to different social and age groups. Following the “getting to know one another”, Zahra and Sohkna Fall Ba (community manager of Equipop who is leading the trainings in Paris) started presenting module 1 “Introduction to CHANGE Plus and FGM”. All the Agents were enthusiast of hearing about the project and showed sincere involvement and motivation to stop FGM. They also gave some examples of activities they would love to organize in order to reach their communities. Then they talked about their motivation to become a CHANGE Agent and challenges within this mission. After lunch the trainers introduced the topic of FGM and explained the origins of it, the different types and the risks that FGM brings to the women’s health. All the Agents were very interested and shared their experiences and opinions.
With great dismay and deep sadness we have to inform you that our project's patron Madame Fatoumata Siré Diakité passed away on October 14th, 2016.
Her passionate and tireless fight for the abandonment of FGM remains unforgotten and will still inspire our project work.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends.