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Promoting and protecting girls' rights

A key focus of our work is promoting and protecting the rights of girls in Sudan by raising awareness of the importance of girls’ education and the disempowering effect of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) and other harmful traditional practices.

We are working with the Wai Health Society, a local partner, in Dweim in the White Nile State of Sudan to end Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) and raise awareness amongst 700 community members of the risks associated with the practice.

We organise training and awareness-raising sessions, working closely with the communities, and hold open days to reach community leaders and family members. This has helped raise awareness amongst religious leaders, community leaders, grandparents, midwives and health workers of the the benefits of combating FGM/C at a local level.

Our focus is on overcoming traditional misconceptions about FGM/C and creating an environment that respects, protects and promotes girls' and children's rights. We generally use existing social structures to engage with the wider community and to build community ownership around this issue.

A recent survey showed that most community members (86.8%) knew about the different types of FGM/Cs, and most (85.5%) knew which were prevalent in the area. Most (85.3%) considered FGM/C to be a bad practice and 82.8% were in favour of ending the practice altogether.

Um, 45, lives in Um Sinaitah, works as midwife and has six children (three daughters and three sons). She says that after attended training sessions for grandmothers on how to eliminate FGM/C, her ideas changed and she was determined to eliminate the practice.  She then started to work with her community members, particularly women and grandmothers, to inform them about the negative effects and complications of circumcision of girls.

Participants in FGM training with their certificates showing that they are now ready to raise awareness in their community about the dangers of FGM
Participants in FGM training with their certificates showing that they are now ready to raise awareness in their community about the dangers of FGM.

 “We started combating FGM/C activities at social occasions, informal coffee sessions and direct meeting with our relatives and friends," said Um, " until more than 20 women adopted the idea of combating FGM/C,” says Um.

“This group of women is increasing day by day, and our village has not registered any circumcision cases in the last five months. With a little more efforts, our village will soon be declared FGM/C free.”

Mohammed, 60, a community leader, added: “I participated in one of the awareness raising workshops and became convinced that FGM/C has nothing to do with our religion. I am now an advocate against FGM/C through talking to all community segments.”