On June 15th, Plan International in Germany organised its monthly exchange meeting for Change Agents. The Change Agents came together to share their experiences with implementing behaviour change activities in the communities and to discuss next steps with their facilitator Ms. Gwladys Awo-Pesch and representatives from Plan Germany, Ms. Anja Stuckert and from Plan Mali, Ms. Madina Bocoum Daff.
Ms Madina Bocoum Daff is the coordinator for the Plan projects to fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Mali and she informed the Change Agents about strategies and methods to address the difficult and often tabooed topic FGM with community members.
Despite the differences between the two countries Mali and Germany, difficulties for Change Agents with regard to approaching community members about FGM can be very similar. Hence, the focus of this session lied on the question of how to overcome such barriers in communities. Ms Madina Bocoum described three types of communities, one that is closing down towards any intervention about the topic of FGM, one that is discordant on the issue and one that is rather open for change. Being able to identify the type of a community will help develop the right intervention strategy. For either type, addressing influential community members, such as religious leaders, should be a priority, as support by these groups could clear the way to the broader community and accelerate success of activities, according to Ms Bocoum Daff’s experience. Ms Bocoum Daff together with the Change Agents then elaborated further on sensible intervention strategies for each community type.
Linda Ederberg and Jonna-Lena Seemann from the Project Coordination team at TERRE DES FEMMES participated in the Exchange Meeting and took the opportunity to interview Change Agents about their experiences during the project and during their behaviour change activities on FGM.