Since 1st March 2017, ActionAid has been conducting Empowerment Paths in Kinsale Direct Provision Centre in County Cork. Empowerment Paths are workshops based on ActionAid’s REFELCT Action approach. The aim of the programme has been empowerment and rejection of FGM. To end FGM the “empowerment” part of the process is important to give women, girls and men the confidence and tools to reject the practice.
And so, this week we completed the first Empowerment Path, with more continuing into the autumn.
How the Empowerment Paths Work
The Empowerment Paths are workshops based on the REFLECT Action Approach. The REFLECT Action approach uses the teachings of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire. ActionAid uses this approach all over the world. By using REFLECT Action in Kenya and Liberia, communities became empowered to reject harmful cultural practices such as FGM and to overcome poverty. However, there are big differences between the dynamic and setting within the programme in Ireland. Therefore, this has been important to consider when developing strategies to make the training interesting. And to keep the participants engaged.
Participation is key to the workshops and is the cornerstone of REFLECT Action method. The Empowerment Paths have used drawings, role plays and a body map exercise to animate different issues. And, these techniques have been helpful to put those taking part on the same level playing field, despite differences in education and knowledge.
Those taking parts in the workshops are also invited to act out different situations which affect their lives. And, the use of role play within the workshops has been very successful.
And, the final workshop included focus group discussions and reactions to statements about FGM.
Have they worked to help end FGM?
Empowerment and participation are key to the success of the Empowerment Paths.
The women who have been taking part since March are now able to identify ways in which they are disempowered in private and public spaces. And the different ways in which they are disadvantaged. Finally, they have become empowered to say no to cultural practices that hold them back as women, including harmful cultural practices such as FGM.
Some of the participants (women and men) who have been taking part in the Empowerment are now ActionAid’s Champions for Change Against FGM. And so, these participants will take part on Champions for Change Training which will be take place on 8th of August 2017 at Nano Nagle place in Cork city. Champions for Change will include policy makers and everyday people who are enthusiastic about ending FGM. The training will include setting intentions, learning about FGM, how to create change and self-care among other topics.
Photo caption: Empowerment Path training in Milan. Photo by ActionAid.