Enabling survivor activists to lead the change in the fight against female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C)
Find out how The Girl Generation's Survivor Leadership Training equips survivors to become leaders within the movement against FGM/C.
9 October 2023
Options’ The Girl Generation: Support to the Africa Led Movement to End FGM/C Programme (TGG-ALM) has developed a flagship initiative, Survivor Leadership Training (SLT), to provide sustainable emotional support and funding for women and girls affected by FGM/C. The aim of the training is to enhance prevention efforts to end FGM/C by equipping and empowering survivors themselves to become leaders within the movement and breaking down the stigma associated with FGM/C and emotional and mental health issues.
“Survivor activists and others who work to end FGM/C face numerous challenges to their emotional well-being, particularly when working in resource-poor settings with low levels of support for ending FGM/C, and where women and girls face multiple vulnerabilities including economic insecurity, forced marriage, and sexual violence,” explains Dr. Leyla Hussein, OBE, the Global Advocacy Director and Deputy Team Leader of the programme. “They often face stigma, social ostracism, and threats to their safety.”
Activists working within affected communities are increasingly calling for the psychosocial impact of FGM/C to be recognised and addressed, both for women’s well-being and as a critical component of prevention.
“Survivors of FGM/C report feeling isolated and alone and do face emotional burnout by working, often over many years on extremely troubling cases, and with limited support. Many activists are survivors of FGM/C themselves. These present challenges to emotional well-being, combined with limited support networks or resources for self-care, tend to limit the end FGM/C movement’s sustainability and effectiveness. There are increasing calls within the movement to recognise and respond to these challenges”, added Dr. Leyla Hussein. “If women can create safe spaces in which to reflect on their own experiences, and what this means for their own daughters, this creates an opportunity for the inter-generational cycle of FGM/C to be broken.”
How the Survivor Leadership Training works:
Co-create and implement the SLT support package with FGM/C survivors: Working with FGM/C survivors in Africa to adapt and use the support package to plan, implement and scale up social change initiatives to end FGM/C within their communities.
Enhancing funding access: Catalysing survivor-led social change to end FGM/C by increasing access to funding for grassroots survivor-led organisations through the Survivor Leadership Fund (SLF).
Digital storytelling: Supporting survivors of FGM/C to tell their stories in a supportive and validating environment and create a lasting digital resource.
Building knowledge and skills: Equip grassroots survivor-led organisations involved in providing care, support, and protection for survivors of FGM/C with the knowledge, skills, and best practices using a survivor-centred approach.
Impact in Kenya and beyond
In 2022, we trained 20 survivors from 18 high-risk counties in Kenya in survivor leadership skills and in 2023, an additional 36 from Somaliland, Ethiopia and Kenya. These survivors are committed to passing on their skills and knowledge to girls and women in their communities, raising awareness about the dangers of FGM/C. This leadership training will soon be replicated in other programme focus countries.