Intergenerational Dialogues catalyse change in Somaliland and Sudan

Intergenerational dialogues have played a vital part in encouraging more people to speak out against the harmful practice in Sudan and Somaliland.

The intergenerational dialogue process is a participatory method for ending FGM with the aim of establishing change of attitudes towards FGM. These dialogues are based on strengthening dialogue between all generations, so that the whole community engages in a collective process of change.

Intergenerational dialogue aims to bridge the gap between different community members and empowers people to discuss issues openly.

In many communities, speaking together about sexual and reproductive health issues such as FGM has often been considered a taboo subject, and particularly difficult to address across generations. Intergenerational dialogue aims to bridge this gap between different community members and empowers people to discuss issues openly.

Mutawinat Benevolent Company is a non-profit organisation aiming to promote the protection of women and children in Sudan, and has been using intergenerational dialogue to end FGM in rural communities. FGM prevalence in Sudan remains one of the highest in Africa. According to a recent report, 87% of women and girls aged 15-49 have undergone FGM. That’s almost 9 out of 10 women and girls.

Their project aims to strengthen intergenerational dialogue and use of positive cultural values and practices in families and communities that contribute to the holistic well-being of girls.

Mutawinat Benevolent Company trained 25 young people on intergenerational dialogue skills to empower them to hold community dialogues with all age appropriate groups and to give them the skills to facilitate FGM discussions.

Having a safe and open space to speak out about FGM has allowed people to speak more freely about the practice.

Many reported that the training on FGM and how to conduct awareness sessions through intergenerational dialogue, has opened their understanding of the effects of the practice and have since vowed to ensure the practice is eliminated. 

Creating safe spaces to speak out against FGM in Somaliland

Over a thousand miles away situated on the horn of Africa lies Somaliland, where a similar project is kicking off to address the 99% prevalence rate of FGM. Somaliland Women’s Research and Action Group (SOWRAG) launched a project to contribute to the strengthening of existing efforts to reduce FGM through grassroots intergenerational dialogue and research on youth views on FGM.

SOWRAG has embraced intergenerational dialogue as innovative and strategic approach to now and future end FGM campaigns in Somaliland.

The project started off by collecting views from youths on how they think FGM could end in Somaliland. As well as listening to youth voices, SOWRAG brought together both young and old generations to discuss the harmful effects on the girls and women, and brainstormed as a group on how it could be eradicated appropriately.

SOWRAG was able to facilitate positive and enabling environments where people could openly share their views on FGM. Both the younger and older generations were keen to talk about the issues surrounding FGM and enjoyed sharing their stories.

It was clear to see that FGM had impacted so many people in so many ways. The dialogues were able to give a platform to the young people, who were very active and energised by the discussions.

Having a safe and open space to speak out about FGM has allowed people to speak more freely about the practice. Following up from the project activities, SOWRAG reported that people were now talking about FGM everywhere. From talking with their friends in tea shops to women having openly frank discussions about FGM with men, dialogues have had a cascading impact on this community.

Intergenerational dialogues have shown to encourage all members of the community, young and old, to talk, listen and learn from each other.

From both these experiences from Sudan and Somaliland, intergenerational dialogues have shown to encourage all members of the community, young and old, to talk, listen and learn from each other. The dialogues help to enable young and old, women and men and youth to reflect upon their values, customs, traditions and expectations, and to consider under what conditions changes ought to be made. By including different people from the community, the dialogues catalysed people to speak out against the practice.

The Girl Generation’s End FGM Grassroots Fund supports local grassroots organisations in some of the countries most affected by FGM. We believe that their local connections, insight and influence mean they are best placed to spark the social changes required for FGM to end. Find out more about what the fund has been able to achieve.

Coming soon – The Girl Generation How To Guide on community dialogues will be launched soon. Watch this space for updates.