On Saturday, the 18th of January 2020, the first training for the CHANGE Mediators took place in the head office of TERRE DES FEMMES (TDF) in Berlin. The training program is integrated in the EU co-funded project “Men Standing Up for Gender Equality” and aims at enabling men from migrant communities to work as so-called CHANGE Mediators. As such, they question concepts of masculinity and gender roles and further sensitise their own communities about gender-based violence. The project aims at committing more men to fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) and early and forced marriage (EFM) as forms of gender-based violence and to provoke a change of thought within affected communities.
The main focus of the first training session was to get to know all the group members. All twelve CHANGE Mediators are representatives of different communities originating from countries of the Middle East (Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey) and Eastern and Western Africa (Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Gambia). They are between 18 and 60 years old and have different educational and family backgrounds.
Men as key authorities in the fight against female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage
Since the project is primarily concerned with the role of men in combatting gender-based violence, particularly FGM and EFM, the first session provided space to talk about the different personal experiences of the participants. All of them are either directly or indirectly affected by FGM or EFM and had to some extent already dealt with gender-based violence. In the following seven training sessions, the CHANGE Mediators will theoretically and practically deal with gender roles and critical masculinity. Moreover, they will receive and deepen their knowledge on gender-based violence, especially FGM and EFM. The training schedule shall empower the participants to educate their own communities about these topics and to sensitise them. In this way, a change of thought shall be initiated.
Gender equality is very important to all CHANGE Mediators. That is also why during the course of the first training, they repeatedly raised the question of how they could engage in the best way. How can such topics be addressed in a sensitive manner? What methods are there to raise awareness? Together, first creative ideas were developed, for instance, working with photography, cartoons or radio broadcasting, which could be further developed and implemented in the course of the project.
We are looking forward to the cooperation and thank all CHANGE Mediators!