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:
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.
In July 2016, Plan International started the CHANGE Agent Training in Hamburg. The training sessions, which are part of the CHANGE Plus Project, focus on different behaviour change steps, such as terminology, communication about FGM/C in families, religious beliefs, and choice and consent. Gwladys Awo, project coordinator and community manager of Plan International, is leading the trainings.
The CHANGE Agents come from different countries like Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Afghanistan. Following the trainings, they will do sensibilisation and intervention activities concerning FGM/C within their diaspora communities. So far, the CHANGE Agents have learned about Gender and Women’s Rights, FGM/C and Legal Issues, Communication Skills and Conflict Management, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Health Issues of FGM/C, as well as Culture, Tradition, Identity and Religion.
In TERRE DES FEMMES’ CHANGE Agent Training on the 5th of November 2016, the gynaecologist Dr. Christoph Zerm was guest lector. For over 20 years now he dedicated himself to FGM/C and is one of the few experts of this issue in Germany. Dr. Zerm talked about health issues of FGM/C. The Agents were very interested in his lecture and the pictures he showed; for example of one surgery he did due to a tumour formation as a consequence of FGM/C. Dr. Zerm answered all upcoming questions of the CHANGE Agents in detail, e. g. questions on FGM/C and pregnancy or on other reconstructive surgeries.
Special thanks go to Dr. Zerm who took some time to share his experience and knowledge about FGM/C with the CHANGE Agents.
In the course of the CHANGE Plus project, which is co-funded by the EU, TERRE DES FEMMES and APF are organizing trainings to educate CHANGE Agents. After finishing the training the CHANGE Agents work as ambassadors of behavioral changes in their own communities. In total, 48 CHANGE Agents will be trained in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and France. The second session dealt with the concept of Gender as well as legal dimensions of FGM.
On Saturday 10th and 17th of September 2016 Equipop and FSAN held their very first training to the future CHANGE Agents in Paris and Amsterdam. After a warm welcome and exchanging mutual greetings, Aurélie Desrumaux, CHANGE Plus project coordinator for Equipop in Paris, and Zahra Naleie, project coordinator for FSAN who is also leading the trainings in Amsterdam, started the session and let the Agents introduce themselves. The CHANGE Agents are men and women coming from different African countries belonging to different social and age groups. Following the “getting to know one another”, Zahra and Sohkna Fall Ba (community manager of Equipop who is leading the trainings in Paris) started presenting module 1 “Introduction to CHANGE Plus and FGM”. All the Agents were enthusiast of hearing about the project and showed sincere involvement and motivation to stop FGM. They also gave some examples of activities they would love to organize in order to reach their communities. Then they talked about their motivation to become a CHANGE Agent and challenges within this mission. After lunch the trainers introduced the topic of FGM and explained the origins of it, the different types and the risks that FGM brings to the women’s health. All the Agents were very interested and shared their experiences and opinions.
On the 27th August the first training session for CHANGE Agents took place at TERRE DES FEMMES’ headquarter in Berlin. The seven Agents Colette Tchoumbou, Evariste Franz Kapnang Tchaptchet, Isatou Barry, Tiranke Diallo, Fadhumo Musa, Mai Ali and Fatou Diatta originally come from African countries with high FGM prevalence, e.g. Gambia, Guinea, Somalia and Sudan. All CHANGE Agents are active members of their respective communities in Berlin and they are all living in Germany for many years now. Over the coming months the CHANGE Agents will be trained on different issues of FGM. Idah Nabateregga, the Community Manager, will coordinate the whole sessions.