Rejecting Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Ireland

What is the AFTER Project?

Since 2016 ActionAid has been working on a programme in Ireland called the AFTER (Against Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting Through Empowerment and Rejection) project.

Cork city and county was selected as the target area for the implementation of the project in Ireland. While it has a large migrant population, services for women and girls who have undergone or are vulnerable to FGM/C that are available in Dublin are not available in Cork.

The AFTER project is supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) programme of the European Union to work with migrant women and girls from FGM/C practicing countries. The project is being implemented across five European countries (Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Sweden) by six partners.

ActionAid Ireland leads the AFTER project in Ireland and has been collaborating with AkiDwA to reach wider communities and share experiences.

What is FGM/C

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting or FGM/C refers to all procedures that involve partial or total destruction of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In some countries around the world, mainly in Africa, FGM/C is a harmful cultural practice and an extreme form of sanctioned violence and discrimination against women.

AFTER Project Key Activities:

Mapping Policies and Existing Services

Research and analysis of the situation in different European Union countries in which the project takes place and dissemination of an information sheet in several African and European languages to inform migrant women and girls on the services available in the territory to protect their sexual and reproductive rights.

ActionAid Ireland completed a national level analysis and a regional study of 16 service providers in Cork city and county in mid-2016. The main findings of the study were:

  • Based on Central Statistics Office 2011 data, 2,639 girls may currently be at risk; this number is expected to rise with the results of the 2016 national census.
  • The service providers interviewed in Cork deliver services on women’s health and domestic violence or provide information and support specifically to migrants; however, they all pointed that they have limited resources and no information or budget to work on FGM/C.
  • Less than 1 in 5 of interviewees were aware that FGM/C is illegal in Ireland.
  • Less than 30% of the participants had received some training on FGM/C as part of general trainings on violence against women.

Personal Journey of Empowerment and Against Mutilation

24 training workshops dedicated to migrant girls and women to raise awareness of their rights to physical integrity and control over their own body. 12 training workshops targeting men.

In Cork, the project will use methodologies, such as the REFLECT method, that have worked at reducing FGM/C in other countries, including facilitating open dialogue within local communities about the practice. ActionAid will facilitate meetings that encourage sharing experiences, opinions  about women’s rights issues in general, so that women, girls and men can challenge norms and beliefs at a local level.

REFLECT – ACTION which is a participatory training methodology will be used to train the community during the empowerment paths. This method has been developed by ActionAid and used successfully for many years to train communities in developing countries. The approach has been used by over 500 organisations in 70 different countries, all reporting positive results in the fight against female genital mutilation/cutting.

Lobbying and Activism Campaign

Raising awareness to local, national and European institutions on the dangers of female genital mutilation/ cutting for migrant girls and women and how to avoid it. Awareness activities will also be organised through testimonies of African experts who are active in the fight against female genital mutilation/cutting in their countries. See section on Champions for Change below.

Communications

Production of a documentary and 10 videos testimonies of religious leaders, women and African activists against female genital mutilation/cutting. Organisation of an international conference to present the results and methodologies developed in the project to combat these practices.

ActionAid will raise awareness among the wider community through film screenings and other local events. As part of the project ActionAid Ireland will host Testimony Tours later in 2017. This means colleagues from the project’s African partners, including local religious leaders, ex-circumcisers, local decision makers and girls and women who have been involved in reducing FGM/C in their communities.

Champions for Change

Champions for Change include policy and decision makers, influential people in the community (religious leaders and community leaders), as well as ‘Youths Against FGM’ and ‘Citizens Against FGM’ who will advocate and speak out against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).

The Champions will receive training on advocacy strategies to increase government commitment to end FGM/C.

Champions are men and women with zero tolerance for FGM/C. They are role models for those who take part in the ‘Empowerment Paths’; a series of local informative meetings and events.

To become a Champion for Change, one must be:

  • Passionate about the rights of women and girls.
  • Willing to support women and girls who are victims/survivors of FGM/C.
  • Ready (and available) for training on various advocacy strategies to develop their leadership skills, communication etc by a global network of experts and advocacy advisors.
  • Ready to speak against the practice of FGM/C.

Are you interested in becoming a Champion for Change? Please contact caroline.munyi@actionaid.org to learn more about joining this Network.

About our Partners

This project is part of a European consortium and is also being implemented in Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Italy. For more information on the wider project please visit: http://afterwomen.eu/  

Akina Dada wa Africa-AkiDwA (Swahili for sisterhood) is a national network of migrant women living in Ireland. The organisation was established in 2001 by a group of African women to address, isolation, racism and Gender Based Violence that the women were experiencing at the time.

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