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.
Seven training sessions focused on different issues related to FGM. The CHANGE Agents learned about the terminology of different forms of FGM, prevalence, economic and social consequences, health issues of FGM, legal dimensions of FGM, women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health rights. They discussed topics such as choice and consent, gender, identity, religion, culture and traditions, and were trained in communication and conflict management skills, self-care, and in developing behaviour change strategies. The training sessions’ activities ranged from group activities, exercises, discussions, lectures and guest lectures, movies and sketches.
Following the trainings, the CHANGE Agents are now starting to implement their behaviour change activities with which they aim to sensitize their communities to the subject of FGM and to induce change towards the abandonment of FGM in the practising communities.
Meanwhile, 8 CHANGE Champions have been trained in a leadership programme by FSAN in the Netherlands and by Plan in Germany (Hamburg) to become advocates on the local, national and European institutional level to influence decision-makers and promote better prevention of and responses to FGM. While the Champions also implement behaviour change activities in communities and act as mentors for the new CHANGE Agents, their leadership training focused on topics such as advocacy, media relations, moderation, and conflict management. They learned about participatory methods and ways to promote community participation towards ceasing the practice of FGM.