By Mamadou A H Bah
We hope to strengthen open dialogue on FGM with influential leaders (National Assembly Member, Woman community leader, Governor), public health students, youth, and women to minimize the culture of silence on FGM and equip the public health students with adequate knowledge on FGM related misconceptions as they prepare to be dispatched in communities.
The national assembly members have been lawmakers, influential individuals and people listened to by their electorates tempted for their active engagement in this activity as their tribes (Fula and Sarahule) are the ones predominantly involved in FGM and child marriage practice.
The activities have been widely followed by youth, women, and the elderly in remotest communities in URR specifically the radio spots that were broadcasted in the local language enhanced their understanding of the law, its existence, and penalties for anyone found violating the law on FGM and child marriage.
One of the radio shows hosted 8th March from 1-2 pm aired during a news hour in the local language that is widely followed across the country on vibes FM radio. Speaking to one of the few if not only female village head in the country, she has this to say >
“As a retired nurse who served for more than 30 years, I have seen how women and women and girls suffered during Labor as a result of undergoing FGM or due to early marriage where their body system is not physically ready/ to become mothers. I, therefore, challenge all village heads irrespective of gender or religion to support stopping FGM as it has bigger health complications leading to a severe loss of blood, transfer of dise,ase during cutting and loss of life”Anonymous
The major challenge was the participation of identified lawmakers most of whom had pre-scheduled engagements.
The quote shared above is one of the strongest messages captured by audiences in the phone-in radio shows. One of the callers in the radio show also highlighted the need for a more political will from the current government to enhance people to be extra cautious of performing the act.
Unexpected Wins; Challenges
The participation of the female village head both on radio and in a voluntary community dialogue has added value in changing the narrative in FGM and child marriage in Kaba Kama. Also, her participation has braked barriers in equal gender representation for structures at the community level.
The phone call from local women during the live show was a major indication of impact (very unusual for women to call on these types of shows in this part of the region).
There is a linkage between both community and national radio stations and there is a possibility of hosting synchronized programmes.
What we would do differently next time?
- Organize a live synchronized broadcast on TV and Radio that will allow the audience to listen simultaneously across the country to be educated and informed on issues, policies, and testimonies by survivors, enforcement bodies, women, and youth leaders.
- Organize a planning session with influential leaders (village heads, chiefs, etc.) in communities on the engagement of traditional communicators around messaging to amplify voices on FGM and child marriage.