The training programme for the CHANGE Agents consists of 7 training days à eight hours organised by APF, Equipop, FSAN, Plan, and TDF. The training sessions will focus on different behaviour change steps such as terminology, communication about FGM in families, religious beliefs, choice and consent. The training sessions aim at developing concrete behaviour change strategies together with the CHANGE agents and empowering them to implement behaviour change activities in their communities. The project partners support the CHANGE Agents through the compilation of packages of existing material on FGM, supporting the behaviour change activities through comic books, leaflets, CDs and DVDs.

The CHANGE pilot training programme combines several approaches approved during campaigns in countries from where FGM originates:

  • Approach of proximity: the CHANGE agents have the same socio-demographic and ethno-linguistic background as their target groups. This facilitates the access to hard-to-reach groups within the communities.
  • Approach of diversity: as influential community members and peers the CHANGE Agents reach people within a community most effectively, the group of CHANGE Agents should reflect a wide range of people such as religious leaders, elders, parents and young people.
  • Intergenerational dialogue and dialogue between men and women: FGM is a highly tabooed topic and deeply rooted in social structures. A dialogue between these groups is an important precondition for behavioural change.
  • Multi-sectorial approach: FGM is linked to many topics like health, gender and education. Key professionals from these sectors are an important target group supporting behaviour change.

Training for CHANGE Agents started!

Community trainer Gwladys Awo from Stiftung Hilfe mit Plan (in the centre) with two CHANGE Agents. Photo: © Stiftung Hilfe mit PlanCommunity trainer Gwladys Awo from Stiftung Hilfe mit Plan (in the centre) with two CHANGE Agents. Photo: © Stiftung Hilfe mit PlanOver 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.