TWEET CONFERENCE: Achieving Public Declaration Of Abandonment: The Role Of Community Dialogue- Dare Adaramoye

Good evening everyone and welcome to today’s tweet conference. I am @dareadaramoye, your host…

Today, we shall focusing on the topic “Achieving Public declaration of FGMC abandonment: The role of community dialogue”

The centuries-old practice of FGM/C is a social norm,  buttressed by underlying gender structures &power relations and deeply rooted in tradition.

FGMC refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons. The practice can be found in communities around the world.

In Africa, FGM is known to be practiced among certain communities in 29 countries. FGM is usually carried out by elderly people in the community (usually, but not exclusively, women) designated to perform this task or by traditional birth attendants.

Where it is widely practiced, FGM is supported by both men and women, usually without question, and anyone that does not follow the norm may face condemnation, harassment and ostracism. It may be difficult for families to abandon the practice without support from the wider community.   In fact, it is often practiced even when it is known to inflict harm upon girls because the perceived social benefits of the practice are deemed higher than its disadvantages.

So, it can be said that FGMC takes its root in tradition/culture of the community practising it.  The decision to stop FGM/C must come from within the community;   it must be made by women, men and community leaders who together can affect and sustain this profound social change.  Communities need to engage in self-examination&discussions and must be encouraged to act collectively.   The most successful approaches use facts and human rights principles to empower communities to decide for themselves  through community dialogue to abandon the practice.

This instils a sense of autonomy and avoids the perception that they are being coerced or judged.   It’s important to note that “There is a limit to what you can impose on communities,”.

The involvement and active participation of members of a community in any programme designed for their developmnt is very crucial to the achievement of the goal &objective of that program.

Because of the interdependent nature of FGMC as a social norm,  it is difficult for any single individuals or families to abandon the practice on their own.

The practice continues because individuals are concerned with whether others will approve or disapprove of their actions, and believe that if they do not conform to the practice there will be sanctions or consequences, such as social exclusion, or the inability to find their daughters suitable marriage partners

Community dialogue creates a non-threatening space where pple can re-evaluate their own beliefs&values regarding FGM/C. it serves to impart new communication skills &knowledge to participants  and to start a discussion about the practice within the community.

Similarly, community dialogues bring people together to openly discuss and reflect on issues relevant to FGM/C such as women’s rights and health and the motivations behind the practice.    The goals of Community Dialogue vary, depending on the context, but broadly, they seek to bring about recognition of the value of women to the community and help people reach a consensus to abandon FGM/C.

A key function has been observed: public community dialogues incite and stimulate private discussions within families, ultimately affecting the decision to carry out FGM/C on a child.

To achieve Public declaration of FGMC abandonment, it can thus be said that community dialogue has a very key &significant role to play.

The fact dat community dialogue give communities a sense of ownership is enough to get any community to abandon this harmful practice.

Dialogue is an unfolding process of transforming and deepening understanding of others and ourselves through listening, sharing and questioning. It implies accepting and respecting the views of others and trying to understand where they are coming from.    Diversity and division are openly addressed in this process.   Dialogue deepens understanding of our own, and each other’s positions,  often leading to shared understanding and an enhancement of our ability to make informed decisions.

What then is a community dialogue?

A community dialogue is an interactive participatory communication process of sharing information  between people or groups of people aimed at reaching a common understanding and workable solution .

It’s the process of joint problem identification and analysis leading to modification and redirection of community and stakeholders’ actions towards preferred future for all .

Unlike debate,dialogueemphasizes on listening to deepen understanding.  Community Dialogue gets people together, sensitize them towards identifying their needs and problems  and how to solve them using their local resources.

The Role of Community Dialogue in FGM/C abandonment process

Effective abandonment of FGM/C requires a process of community dialogue, decision and public commitment.

FGM/C can only be abandoned at scale when abandonment is a coordinated act  undertaken by a large enough proportion of the intra-marrying group to ensure that the shift is both effective&stable.  Families will not abandon FGM/C on their own.    They will not abandon the practice as long as they believe that others still expect them to cut their daughters.   They will act only when they believe that social expectations have changed, and that most or all others in their community will make the same choice around the same time.

FGM/C abandonment typically begins with an initial core group of individuals who set in motion a dynamic of change. As this group becomes ready to abandon the practice, they then seek to convince others to abandon. Members of this critical mass spread d knowledge of their intentn to abandon to others through their social networks a process known as ‘organized diffusion’ – until a large enough portion of the intramarrying community is ready to abandon FGM/C

It is described in this text as the ‘tipping point’.   After this point, the abandonment would become stable because it would permanently change social expectations. Community members would be expected not to cut their daughters, &would be socially rewarded or sanctioned accordingly.

But for abandonment to occur, it is essential that people are aware of and trust the intention of others to also abandon.

Social expectations will change if people have a guarantee of the commitment of others to abandon. A moment of public affirmation of commitment to abandon the practice is therefore required, so that each individual is assured that other community members are willing to end the practice.

For the alternative possibility of not cutting to become a reality, new attitudes and a willingness to change need to be made explicit and public. This opens the way for behaviour change and for an actual and stable abandonment.   The moment of public commitment can be a celebratory and ennobling event.

Some communities that have abandoned FGM/C have seen d abandonment process as an opportunity to increase d profile of d village. Community members often feel pride to publicly declare their choice to abandon FGM/C, rather than shame at not upholding the practice or for having upheld it in the past.    Public commitment through Community Dialogue serves as mechanism to coordinate families within intramarrying communities on abandonment.

It also simultaneously activates individual &collective resolve to live up to d abandonment decision.  Community Dialogue not only helps shift d convention, maintaining d marriageability interest &advancing the health interest.

It also shifts the social norm, so that families who do not cut are socially respected  and those who continue to perform the practice are socially sanctioned.

It important to note that Community Dialogue;… #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

 

51a. Allows expression of different views. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls
51b. Participants listen to understand and gain insight. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls
51c. Questions are asked from a position of curiosity. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls
51d. Participants speak with free minds. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls
51e. New information surfaces and communities are able to make decisions based on local solutions. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

52a. We must understand that the MAIN OBJECTIVE of CD is to generate response from communities #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

52b. and individuals that result into commitment to addressing the identified problems (issues)/gaps in a participatory manner. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53 METHODS AND TOOL OF COMMUNITY DIALOGUE #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

 

53b Community dialogue approach is adapted to suit the participants’ level of knowledge and skills. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53c Methods to be used depends on the topic and assessment of participants’ capabilities: #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53c1. Strategic questioning. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53c2. Story telling. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53c3. Historical timelines. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53c4. Mapping and transect walks. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53c5. Traditional Wisdom (Proverbs, songs). #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

53c6. Discussions #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

Steps for conducting community dialogue in other to achieve public declaration #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

54a Problem identification #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

54b. Problem analysis #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

54c. Identification of the best options #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

54d. Prioritization of options #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

54e. Joint planning #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

54f. Acting together #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

54g. Monitoring, evaluation and feedback #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

Benefits of conducting community dialogue #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

55a. Helps to identify and enlist key individuals for sustainable partnerships. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

55b. Helps solicit community participation, support and commitment in problem-solving for sustainable behavior change. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

55c. Promotes sharing of information and ideas between diverse individuals  #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

55d. Facilitates joint community assessment to identify community problems and effective solutions #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

55e. Promotes deeper understanding of communities, their situation, current practices, interests, existing opportunities and challenges for sustainable behaviour change. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

55f. Helps leaders of all sectors to recognize their roles in building sustainable healthy communities. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

55g. Promotes accountability and ownership of agreed intervention  #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

Challenges of community dialogue

56a. Dialoguing is time consuming; therefore timing for dialogue should be appropriate. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

56b. Requires good facilitating skills. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

56c. Requires a good and suitable venue, which is free from any disruption and where the participants are comfortable. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

56d. Poor preparation and planning affects the quality of discussions during dialogue sessions. #EndCuttingGirls @endcuttinggirls

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