Training and Engaging Youth in How to run Media Activities to End FGM

Training and Engaging Youth in How to run Media Activities to End FGM

By Dr Chris Ugwu

Media Programme in Enugu State, Nigeria was launched this year to engage youth in the end-FGM campaign. 

Project engagement:

This particular project is centered on building the capacity of youth with regards to using the media for FGM advocacy. This project is targeted at youth in Enugu State, Nigeria. We came up with this project due to the huge gap, we noticed amongst various youth in Enugu State. This is mostly with regards to the little or no knowledge, which they have with regards to using the media to advocate for an end to FGM in Enugu State. 

From the foregoing, therefore, we have duly engaged so far with 15 youth in Enugu State. These are youth between the ages of 18-35 years. They were duly selected through a rigorous process. At the end of this process, they were therefore duly selected. We chose to engage with youth in this project due to the following reasons and they include:

  • Youth are energetic, vibrant, and innovative: The foregoing traits are very much essential if we intend to end FGM in this generation. This is because; we need people who are energetic, vibrant, and innovative.
  • Youth are the ones to end FGM in this generation: The world has a goal to end FGM by 2030. We strongly believe that for us to meet this goal we need youth. This is because; by 2030 they would still be very much active.

How successful was the media project? 

Our media project has indeed been a huge success. We say this because; currently we now have youth who are highly knowledgeable about using the media to advocate for an end to FGM here in Enugu State. This knowledge has since been translated into their commitment and advocacy. We have seen youth who are now passionate to see that FGM is ended in Enugu State. Furthermore, we are now seeing youth who are using the media to end FGM in Enugu State. We will therefore go-ahead to show this through two pictures and they include the following:

This picture shows Ikenna and Rita two of our beneficiaries taking part in a radio program to advocate for an end to FGM in Enugu State. This radio program was held at Coal City FM Enugu. Coal City FM is the foremost radio station in Enugu State with a listening reach of over 1 million. We, therefore, decided to use this station to further increase the capacity of Ikenna and Rita to advocate for an end to FGM. This program was indeed a success as both Ikenna and Rita spoke to over 1 million residents of Enugu State about the dangers of FGM. A favourite quote from Ikenna is: 

“Youth are the ones to end FGM in this generation; the importance of using the media to achieve this cannot be overemphasized”.

This picture shows Amara one of our beneficiaries showing her commitment to ending FGM in this generation. Amara is a young woman from Enugu State who in the past knew little or nothing about the dangers of FGM. She thereafter took part in our training sessions and was exposed to the dangers of FGM. After listening to how FGM affects not just the health of women and girls, but also their education and economic growth; she committed. This commitment centered on that henceforth she will ensure that this practice is ended in Enugu State. She also has a favourite quote: 

“I am committed to ending FGM in this generation”.

 In doing this, she presently designs IEC materials targeted at ending FGM in Enugu State. Furthermore, she uses her social media platforms to advocate for an end to FGM. This is indeed one great story of change. 

Difficulties faced?

No, we have not; it has indeed been a smooth ride for us. This is because; this project was co-designed with youth here in Enugu State. This was done to ensure inclusion. This, therefore, has helped us to reduce greatly the problems and challenges, which we would have faced in the course of this project. Also, this was helped by the cordial relationship; we already have with various media groups in Enugu State. 

Strong messages:

  • Youth should be prioritized in end FGM advocacies: This was one strong message, which came out from our media project. We showed this commitment by ensuring that youth are the ones in charge of this project. We currently have a project lead that is just 28 years old. Furthermore, all the organization and implementation of this project have been done by youth. This will invariably culminate in the creation of a youth media network to end FGM in Enugu State. We strongly believe that youth need to be given spaces and platforms to take up this campaign to end FGM.
  • The importance of using the media to end FGM: Our advocacies to end FGM cannot be complete without making effective use of various media platforms. This is because; the media is instrumental in making sure that our voices get to a wider audience. Furthermore, the media helps us to gain traction and much-needed visibility. We have so far emphasized this through this project. We have shown our beneficiaries this importance and have also gone ahead to build their capacities in using some of these platforms. In this regard, we have so far trained them on how to use the radio and social media.

Unexpected wins?

One unexpected win was how fast our beneficiaries got the message. We had expected this to take time as we are training them on using media platforms, which they had little or no knowledge about how to use. We were therefore pleasantly surprised that after a few training sessions that they got the message. We are presently seeing young activists who are first and foremost passionate about ending FGM in Enugu State. Furthermore, we are presently seeing young activists who are now using the radio, their social media, and IEC materials to end FGM in Enugu State.

In illustrating this, the story of one of our beneficiaries comes to mind. This is a story of Rita Odo who had never used the radio to advocate for an end to FGM in Enugu State. Furthermore, she has in the past never used her social media platforms to advocate for an end to FGM in Enugu State. All this has now changed as we are presently seeing a very strong and passionate end FGM activist in her. In the course of this project, she has been trained on using the media to end FGM in Enugu State. She has also been exposed to visiting a radio station for the first time to talk about ending FGM in Enugu State. 


Impact:

We recently interviewed our 15 beneficiaries on the impact of this project so far on their lives. Here is a tabular illustration to show The foregoing shows this:

87% of the beneficiaries affirmed that the project has been highly impactful and beneficial to them. This to us is indeed a staggering number. Furthermore, we are elated to know that we did not have any of the beneficiaries who said that it wasn’t beneficial to him/her. This is indeed a testament that there was indeed value for money in this project. 

To further buttress this, the story of Amara readily comes to mind. Amara is a young woman from Enugu State who in the past knew little or nothing about the dangers of FGM. She thereafter took part in our training sessions and was exposed to the dangers of FGM. After listening to how FGM affects not just the health of women and girls, but also their education and economic growth; she committed. This commitment centered on that henceforth she will ensure that this practice is ended in Enugu State. She also has a favourite quote “l am committed to ending FGM in this generation”. In doing this, she presently designs IEC materials targeted at ending FGM in Enugu State. Furthermore, she uses her social media platforms to advocate for an end to FGM. This is indeed one great story of change. 

Linkages:

One linkage, which we have strengthened through this project, is our relationship with radio stations. We have so further improved on the already existing relationship, which we had in the past with radio stations. Some of these radio stations include Coal City FM, Solid FM, Dream FM, etc. They have always been instrumental in helping us disseminate information about FGM here in Enugu State. This project, therefore, helped us greatly in further strengthening this relationship. We hope to achieve more through this relationship.

Next time…

We don’t think that we would do anything differently. This is because; this project was co-designed with youth here in Enugu State. This was done to ensure inclusion. This, therefore, has helped us to greatly reduce the problems and challenges, which we would have faced in the course of this project. 

Activities funded by Wallace Global Funds 

Ruth Harley

Ruth is an opera singer collaborating with women in Kenya using indigenous music to end FGM. She is compiling stories written by End FGM campaigners working with the Global Media Campaign to End FGM.