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Abandoning FGC




    Ababa, August 25 – September 5, 2003ommunicating

    Information and Better Practices to Policymakers

    In June 2002, the World Health

    Organization (WHO) sponsored a meeting on female genital cutting

    (FGC) for representatives of 10 African countries. During

    the meeting, participants identified a need for training in

    policy-level communication and advocacy. To address this need,

    the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) supported a two-week

    regional policy communication workshop. The workshop, Abandoning

    FGC: Communicating Information and Better Practices to Policymakers,

    was conducted August 25-September 5, 2003 in Addis Ababa,

    Ethiopia, in collaboration with the National Committee on

    Traditional Practices of Ethiopia (NCTPE), and CARE/Ethiopia.

    The workshop was sponsored by the USAID Bureau for Global

    Health through PRB’s MEASURE Communication project and by

    the USAID Bureau for Africa.

    The workshop was based on the model

    currently used in PRB’s regional policy communication training

    program, focusing on policy-level communication, as opposed

    to community-level advocacy, and was intended to help local

    program officials reach high-level policy audiences. Sessions

    helped participants identify the policy and program implications

    of available information, understand how research findings

    and information can influence the policy process, explore

    how to present sensitive information using culturally appropriate

    messages, and communicate these messages in simple and compelling

    formats. The primary goal of the workshop was to help participants

    increase the use of available data and information on better

    practices for establishing or improving policies to abandon


    The workshop trained 13 researchers,

    program officials, and policy advisors from seven Anglophone

    African countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya,

    Nigeria and Sudan) in strategic planning and communication

    skills to improve FGC abandonment policies and programs. The

    group consisted of key individuals who are directly involved

    in promoting or implementing FGC abandonment programs or who

    are in positions to influence high-level decisionmakers on

    this issue. This included: representatives of national FGC

    “focal point groups;” national government staff

    from the Ministry of Health; journalists responsible for disseminating

    information on FGC; representatives of national committees

    for harmful traditional practices and the Inter-African Committee

    (IAC); researchers and project managers from USAID contracting

    agencies and universities who are working on FGC activities.

    The workshop combined plenary sessions,

    small group sessions, and individual work, emphasizing hands-on

    participation. Sessions covered nine main areas:

    · Exploring barriers to abandoning FGC and promoting

    alternatives to the practice

    · Fundamentals of the policy process

    · Exploring the research-policy gap and designing policy-relevant


    · Developing a framework for action

    · Developing communication strategies and action plans

    · Working with the media

    · Preparing policy memoranda and briefings

    · Making effective oral presentations using PowerPoint

    · Preparing and delivering oral presentations

    Other highlights of the workshop included:

    · Site visit to Awash: On Saturday, August 30th, CARE/Ethiopia

    arranged a site visit to the Afar region to the CARE/Ethiopia’s

    Afar FGC Eradication Project site. Here participants visited

    the Awash-Fentale district, which consists of 29 rural communities

    with the Awash town as its capital. CARE/Ethiopia arranged

    a town hall meeting in which participants and men, women and

    children from the community were able to meet to discuss FGC,

    barriers to FGC abandonment, and changes occurring in their


    · Visit to Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital: In response

    to participants’ requests, PRB scheduled a visit to the Addis

    Ababa Fistula Hospital on Friday afternoon, September 5th.

    The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital has served over 20,000 women

    since 1974, and has become a major teaching institution for

    surgeons all over Ethiopia and the developing world. Participants

    toured the hospital ward, operating theater, therapy department,

    hostels and facility grounds through a guided tour with hospital


    Workshop Evaluation

    In general, participants were very

    positive about the workshop content, the quality of the materials,

    and the anticipated long-term benefits. All participants gave

    specific examples of how the workshop would contribute to

    their work at home. Ideas ranged from increasing individual

    skills, such as increasing work with the news media and making

    effective presentations of research results, to training other

    IAC staff in PowerPoint. During a mid-workshop assessment,

    participants stated that they felt “empowered” and

    “active” and that the workshop was “participatory”,

    “highly organized,” and that they were “impressed

    with the workshop materials and resources available.”

    In the final workshop evaluation, on a scale of 1 (not informative

    or useful) to 5 (very informative or useful), only 1 out of

    24 sessions scored under 4.

    Many participants stated in the workshop

    evaluations that the workshop should be reproduced in other

    countries and that other participants could benefit from similar

    workshops of its kind PRB is planning to seek funding to replicate

    the workshop in Anglophone or Francophone Africa or the MENA




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