Monday, 21 August 2017

Target Group, Purpose and Context in Delivering anti FGM Messages



In July 2017 I spent two weeks in Kampala, Uganda with fifteen most amazing, brilliant and multi-talented youths drawn from ten countries of the world. This was made possible by AIDOS (Italian Association for Women in Development) in the frame work of the project, “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM/C” supported by the UNFPA----UNICEF Joint programme on FGM/C

The diversity of the participants was amazing having representatives from Germany, UK, Portugal, Finland, Nigeria, Gambia, Egypt, Somalia, Uganda and my country Kenya. To add icing to the cake all participants were 30 years and below working on ending FGM in different capacities in their countries of origin. We had project officers, activists, actors, bloggers, founders and co-founders, medical practitioners, film makers, script writers, filming directors, creative arts and designers just to mention a few. 

In my conversation with these amazing participants and the trainers it became evident that we need to be keen on the target group, purpose and context when coming up with End FGM messages. Slight mistakes could easily make the messages misunderstood.

 This has made me to come up with my own classification of end FGM messages. 

1.    Messages meant for fundraising and awareness in Europe and other Developed countries

This serves a very important role in the fight against FGM as the most resources that finance end FGM activities are sourced mainly from Europe and other developed countries. This message is meant to enlighten, sensitize, educate and motivate potential donors to support End FGM work. Though this plays a very important role this message may be not applicable in sensitizing local communities in Africa and other developing countries.

2.       Messages for community workers and Activists
This message helps in training and equipping community workers and activists with relevant skills and techniques on how to deliver end FGM messages to the target communities and groups. It also equips them on how to deal with different challenges, and how to be efficient and effective in delivering the intended message to the target groups. Remember the activists are already well versed on matters FGM and can consume a variety of messages to help them make informed decisions when dealing with community members.

3.       Messages for the youths
Currently we have the most youthful population than there has ever been in the history of our planet earth. Informed youth is one of the best resource that and community/country can have at its disposal as they are able to make informed decisions; and the vice versa is true. Young people though are quite impatient and to capture their attention we need to have the messages delivered in a youth friendly manner. These messages can be delivered via social media and other means deemed attractive to the youths depending with the context.

4.       Messages for elders and conservative communities
Most practicing communities are patriarchal in nature and the elders are the custodians of the culture. Delivering anti FGM messages to them is always an uphill task as they are extremely conservative and simple terms like vagina and clitoris if not used well could jeopardize a whole intervention. Messages targeting them should be well crafted to take care of acceptable terms within the community. They should also be delivered by the right messenger as in some communities’ women are not allowed to address the elders or they should dress in a certain way when doing so.

5.       Messages for less conservative communities/groups
I am sorry but let me admit African communities are generally conservative and some words like vagina, clitoris and other terms that refer to female genitalia are normally not so comfortable with most people. Even the enlightened in the society find it quite difficult to mention them in public. As such we should be able to find out generally acceptable terms within the target group and context. 

6.        Messages for children and adolescents 
These messages should be presented in a child friendly manner. They should not do more harm to the children in the name of sensitization. There is need to avoid use of strong terms and graphic images that could do psychological harm to the group other than the intended good. 

7.       General Messages 
These are messages meant for all, they may include general statements like,” FGM has no medical benefits” among others. They mostly pass factual messages that are known to many based on scientific and medical researches among others. 

To my fellow activists and other anti FGM crusaders we must choose the right messages every time we are doing our end FGM work. 

Thank you @TonyMwebia




Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Youths and #FGM


Currently in this world we have the most youthful generation than there has ever been. It’s also evident that there is increased activities geared towards ending FGM than there has ever been. Informed youths is the best resource that any country can have at their disposal and the vice versa is true. Remember youths and adolescents stand to benefit most by the achievement of SDGs than any other generation.

To achieve the generational change that, we so much yearn for in the fight against FGM we cannot afford to ignore the youthful generation and especially men. Remember most if not all reasons for FGM point directly or indirectly at increasing marriageability. Aha, who are the potential future husbands? Over years we have focused on enlightening women and girls on matters FGM, could this have led to the notion that FGM is a women’s issue? Is this leading to stereotyping on maters FGM? How do we avert this dangerous trend? 
  
We need to target the young men, especially adolescents who have not yet undergone initiation into adulthood in our campaigns going forward. Why is this important? In most African cultures the youths get initiated into adulthood at the point of circumcision. Here they are taught on the types of women that they need to look for as potential spouses. They are also brainwashed on matters FGM at this point. We need to ensure by the time the boys are being initiated they are already well informed on matters FGM and they can easily make informed decisions afterwards.

Social media is one of the main tools that can be used to spark conversation among the youths as they remain the majority users. Online campaigns should be tailored to be attractive and user friendly to the youthful generation. This can only be achieved if we change/adopt our strategies to the changing times 

@TonyMwebia



Monday, 12 June 2017

#200MIsNotJustaNumber




200 Million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation! Well numbers don’t lie, but this figure has been boggling my mind for a while now. Is it just a statistic or what does it actually represent? How many more? till we give FGM the attention it really deserves. 

In my view this number represents women and girls who were born perfect but have been sentenced to a lifetime of misery by being mutilated. It represents dreams killed, emotional and physical suffering and a gross violation of basic human rights. It represents our sisters, cousins, friends, girlfriends and people close to us who have been subjected to torture in the name of culture.

Remember 3 Million more girls are at risk of undergoing FGM every year and don’t forget this practice has no medical benefits whatsoever, but the suffering it comes with can only be described as a trip to ‘hell’ and back. These figures should act as a wake-up call for collaborations between regions, religions, organisations, nations, communities, activists and all humanity to say enough is enough and no other girl will become a statistic.

Currently we have more efforts to address FGM than there has ever been in the history of mankind. Youths who are the ultimate beneficiaries of SDGs are taking up the mantle. The fight has been taken online and offline. More men are joining the fight and finally there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s keep the fire burning and remember the little you do counts no matter how insignificant it may seem. 

@TonyMwebia