Let’s CHANGE is all about involving communities affected by FGM in a process leading up to a new attitude towards FGM and, in the long term, the abandonment of the practice. Since it directly targets practicing communities, the CHANGE Agents play a key role in the project. The idea is that the CHANGE Agents, being active community members themselves, have access to communities that are usually difficult to reach, and thereby are able to act as multipliers within these communities. Instead of being perceived as intruders, they are more likely to inspire confidence and can overcome potential cultural and linguistic barriers more easily. Therefore, when recruiting future CHANGE Agents, we were looking for women and men of all ages (at least 18 years old) who are well integrated within their social environment and have roots in practicing communities in – amongst others – Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Gambia, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Guinea and Mali. This year Let’s CHANGE is also targeting the Middle East and Asia, to make sure to visualize FGM as a global issue. Apart from language skills (which may differ between the project countries) and good communication skills, there are no specific requirements concerning the CHANGE Agents’ educational and professional background. They should have basic knowledge about FGM, but most of all they need to be responsible, reliable and rejecting all forms of FGM without any exception.
According to these criteria, a total of 34 persons will be recruited and then trained in order to enable them to promote behaviour change regarding FGM within their respective communities.
What do they do exactly?
By signing up to become CHANGE Agents, the participants agree to engage in a two-year process of personal development (October 2018 - September 2020), in the course of which they will participate in the training sessions. Furthermore, they will attend empowerment meetings and in meet-ups with the CHANGE Trainer.
According to the needs of each group of CHANGE Agents, the number of hours per training session may vary. In general, all CHANGE Agents will benefit from the same of training sessions. The empowerment and exchange meetings will allow the CHANGE Agents to discuss successful strategies or difficulties they face. Another objective is to support and motivate each other.
In addition, each CHANGE Agent will implement at least three Behaviour Change Activities within their respective communities on their own and one with their assigned CHANGE Trainer.
How are they prepared to do this?
The training sessions will provide extensive information about FGM as well as necessary resources, communication strategies and methodological skills they need to fulfil their role as multipliers and to promote behaviour change towards FGM in practicing communities. Moreover, the CHANGE trainer from the CHANGE plus project will empower and monitor through own experiences from implemented Behaviour Change Activities of the past project.