TWEET CONFERENCE SCRIPT: Empowering Family Influencers, such as Grandmothers and Mother-in-laws, as EndFGM Advocates. – 26.07.2018

Good evening everyone, I am @Charles_clever, I welcome you to today’s tweet conference. I have with me my co-anchors @Ttonia_ and @FemiJoss.

Today our focus is on; EMPOWERING FAMILY INFLUENCERS, SUCH AS GRANDMOTHERS AND MOTHER-IN-LAWS, AS ENDFGM ADVOCATES.

We shall be answering your questions from 6:45Pm. So let’s go to the business of today.

For the sake of those joining this conversation for the first time, we will like to give a brief introduction on FGM.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

According to WHO; It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated..

A key challenge is not only protecting girls who are currently at risk from FGM but also ensuring that those to be born will be free from the dangers of the practice.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classified FGM into  four types:

Type I, Clitoridectomy: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce.

Type II, Excision: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora. The amount of tissue that is removed varies widely from community to community.

Type III, Infibulation: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and re-positioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora. This can take place with or without removal of the clitoris.

Type IV: All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping or cauterization.

FGM has zero health benefits and can cause serious lifelong problems which includes: cysts; chronic infections; severe pain during urination and sexual intercourse; psychological trauma; and increased risk of infertility, labour complications and new-born death.

FGM procedure can be fatal hence there is need to end the practice globally

For more information about basic facts on FGM kindly visit www.endcuttinggirls.com

Despite some success stories around ending FGM, the rate of it’s abandonment has been slow.

Part of the factors slowing down the abandonment process is the use of judgemental and accusatory approach which often have very little effect on curbing the practice in the long term.

Again, some of the end FGM campaign often times excludes older women in cutting communities who are sometimes labelled as obstacles to positive change and even the driving force behind the tradition.

Amazingly, grandmothers and mother-in-laws remain great family influencers and as such must be seen as major stakeholders in the End FGM campaign

First we’ll look at grandmothers and then mother-in-laws as potentially great advocates that can accelerate the campaign for an FGM-free society

Older women and grandmothers play a very important role in most traditional communities, holding matriarchal power and are consulted on family affairs and conflict resolution.

FGM and other harmful practices against girls are entrenched in cultural values, and grandmothers and elders are known to be the “guardians” of such traditions.

There is need to overcome the negative biases against grandmothers and instead involve these elderly women in community efforts to improve the health and well-being of women and children.

I will stop here for my colleague @Ttonia_ to continue. Thank you.

Thank you @Charles_Clever for that educative section and welcome to the second segment of today’s conference.

Advocacy remains the key to empowering grandmothers and mother-in-laws as endFGM advocates

A group of grand mothers who act as role models can be trained and sensitised on the subject matter and thereafter encouraged to pass on the same messages to their grandchildren with the confidence that the grandmothers in the communities are influential

These women can be engaged through open discussions about problems facing the community such as those emanating from FGM. Innovative methods such as storytelling and songs can be employed to inform grandmothers on the subject of FGM and its harmful consequences.

This approach will enable grandmothers and mother in-law’s to identify FGM as a problem and reach consensus on possible solutions that best suit their needs, which can lead to a sustained change in attitude.

Grandmothers will be encouraged to strengthen positive cultural traditions and discard harmful ones such as FGM.

This approach will advocate holistic upbringing of girls’ intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral, and psychological well-being as an alternative right of passage to FGM

Grandmothers having learnt about the dangers of FGM can turn advocates to end the practice

This approach will bring about positive changes from grandmothers and elderly women, a once over looked group.

Empowering grandmother will also enable them educate their children not to cut their grandchildren.  

We all grew up in the hands of our grandmothers who told us stories and prepared us for adolescent stages.

The voice of older woman such as grandmothers and mother-in-laws carry weight in the ears of their children.

Their children many of which might be educated will easily concur because they may have also learnt about the dangers of FGM from other sources.

Rural women make up over a quarter of the world’s population and have a leading role to play in bringing an end to the type of gender violence and discrimination that FGM personifies.

Grandmothers have the inherent capacity to help in leading the community to a collective decision towards the abandonment of FGM.

The grandmothers’ approach will bridge the cross/inter-generation communication gap with an aim of changing behaviours towards ending FGM.

The idea is that the grandmothers’ Children and Grandchildren listen to them and they in away possess a lot of influence on daughters-in-law.

I will stop here for my colleague @FemiJoss to conclude. Please don’t forget to keep you questions coming in from 6:45pm.

Thank you @Ttonia_. Good evening all and welcome to the final laps of this conference.

The grandmothers and mother-in-law’s play a critical role at household and homestead level.

In most part of the globe mother-in-laws pay courtesy visit following birth of a new child.

During this period they initiate and direct how the new child will be taken care of #EndCuttingGirls

Many a time mother-in-law’s who believe in FGM ensures that the new girl-child undergoes the process during her visit

In addition, mother-in-law’s are always consulted in several of their children’s marriage and family affairs.

This underlines the overriding need to carry mother in-laws along in the end FGM campaign

If converted they can use their influence positively to ensure that all new born girl-children remain uncut.

Various women gatherings can be leveraged on to generally sensitize them about the dangers of FGM

They can in turn become end FGM advocates which will be a big plus to the campaign

As we look for solutions to FGM, we must remember that it is not just about abandonment, It is also about empowerment through educating women including grandmothers, mother-in-law’s and the communities at large.

Ending FGM is about raising consciousness so that people can change their attitudes toward this harmful cultural practice.

Women’s self-worth should not be tied to undergoing FGM; rather, women should be respected because of their positive contributions to Nation building.

The elimination of FGM is a health, social, and economic issue to be vigorously pursued by all members of the society.

In conclusion, grandmothers and mother-in-laws remain major stakeholders in the campaign for an FGM-free society, empowering them as advocates is the key.

We have come to the end of today twitter conference. Thanks for Joining u! It’s question time.

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