This project seeks to improve the public and professional knowledge on female genital mutilation (FGM) to better prevent and address this specific form of violence against women and girls as defined in the Council of Europe Convention of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).
The project builds upon a very successfully pilot tested e-learning course “United to End FGM” [www.uefgm.org], funded by the Human Dignity Foundation through the End FGM Fund 2012 (led by the End FGM European Campaign), and coordinated by the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS). Over 1600 people all over the world registered for this course from 90 countries and 5 continents, from 280 different companies/organisations.
The overall aim of the project is the creation and development of a web-based knowledge platform that will serve as a European resource and education centre on FGM, building on the success of UEFGM, which has the following objectives:
- Developing a web-based knowledge platform on female genital mutilation (FGM), which will gather easily accessible (and culturally appropriate) information and support to professionals, deliver victim support more effectively, help prevent FGM and protect women and girls living with or at risk of FGM;
- Contributing to the implementation of the directive on the rights of the victims of crime (Directive 2012/29/EU) and the directive on international protection in particular on qualification (Directive 2004/83/EU) and reception conditions (Council Directive 2003/9/EC and Directive 2013/33/EU);
- Ensuring targeted awareness raising by improving knowledge of the practice, preventing stigmatisation in the media and protecting women and girls living with or at risk of FGM. A wide spectrum of target groups will benefit from the knowledge platform
Within the Project the End FGM European Network will take the lead in developing the dissemination strategy and oversee its correct implementation by its partners. The overall aim of the dissemination strategy is to guide how the project and its results will be disseminated and spread. In so doing, dissemination should enable the project partners to link the following target groups: communities affected by FGM, survivors, those at risk, all types of professionals who may come into contact with those affected by FGM, policy shapers and decision makers at international, European, national, regional and local level to the extensive repository of knowledge and resources developed by the project.
Dissemination is one of the necessary conditions for the sustainability of the project and its outputs. In fact, dissemination ensures the visibility needed to reach large audiences not directly involved in the project itself. Dissemination makes the project visible, enables the consolidation of networks of “real” and potential users and official recognition on the issue, as well as continuous feedback from users. When these conditions are in place (but the list may be made longer), then dissemination can really bolster the sustainability of the project and its outputs.
The Network will also develop a module on FGM and media reporting. This module will focus on the importance of the role of the media in preventing FGM and raising awareness about the practice. Focus will also be on cultural and gender sensitive reporting and ensuring non-stigmatizing communication practices.
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CHANGE Plus aims at raising awareness, changing attitudes and promoting behaviour change on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in practising African communities in five EU Member States (Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy and France) through community assessment, capacity development/ mutual learning, exchange of good practices and the empowerment of community members.
The project directly involves active community members. Women and men will engage in joint action in groups of CHANGE Agents and CHANGE Champions: CHANGE Agents are newly recruited community members, while CHANGE Champions are experienced CHANGE Agents who participated in the predecessor CHANGE project. Both groups will be diverse in terms of gender, origin, age etc. Survivors of FGM will exchange with others without a personal history of FGM but with an African background.
In order to specifically address the fact that FGM is often falsely presented as a religious practice, CHANGE Agents will specifically address religious leaders in their behaviour change activities. Through focused leadership training beside the behaviour change activities, CHANGE Champions are supported to become anti-FGM-advocates at the local/national and European level and participate in advocacy activities initiated by the partner organisations.
The project promotes gender equality and contributes to women’s/ girls’ empowerment to lead lives free from violence, particularly focusing on FGM. Targeting the socio-cultural dynamics that perpetuate FGM in communities, the project employs a gender-sensitive approach to capacity development and community action. Women living with the consequences of FGM are active participants in the project. The project dedicates particular attention to the role of men and male activism in behaviour change toward the abandonment of FGM.
The End-FGM European Network will be joining the project as a partner for the dissemination of results to EU policy-makers. The Network will play a vital role in communicating project results and disseminating project publications to its member organisations and to the public. This will be done through its external and internal newsletter, its website and its social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) which have thousands of followers and are tracked by key decision makers and affected communities at a global level.
The partners have recently published “Responding to Female Genital Mutilation: A Guide for Key Professionals”, a brochure which includes information on EU legislation and strategies. The brochure is also available in French, Italian and Portuguese.