FORWARD's Community Development Work

Since its establishment in 1983, FORWARD has been recognised as the premier UK based organisation campaigning against female genital mutilation. FORWARD recognises that unless we have and impact upon the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practising communities in the UK it will not be possible to effect positive permanent behaviour change.

FORWARD has been a pioneer in promoting innovative strategies and community-orientated approaches leading to the prevention and abandonment of FGM, some of which have been adopted by others in their campaigns against FGM.

Such approaches include advocating for empowerment of African women to adopt leadership roles in the anti-FGM campaign, promoting counselling approaches as a method of working with girls and women, developing services for girls and women affected by FGM, restructuring of puberty rituals without FGM, as well as using story telling and drama to highlight the gender and human rights dimensions of FGM.

FORWARD's Community Development objectives in the UK:

  1. To raise community awareness of the issues underpinning FGM.
  2. To create community social support for the abandonment of FGM.
  3. To support, protect and rehabilitate girls and women who have been subjected to, or are at risk of FGM.
  4. To fundraise and provide financial and technical assistance for community group education activities to empower women and communities to confront gender violence.
  5. To conduct research with the aim of improving knowledge on FGM, including identifying sensitive approaches that integrate gender and human rights dimensions and disseminating results to inform positive permanent behaviour change.
  6. To collaborate with community-based organisations to effect positive change and prevent FGM by ensuring that communities themselves are able to identify and protect girls at risk.

Since the beginning of 2005 FORWARD has organised and delivered training in partnership with following community groups:

  1. Somali men in Birmingham in partnership with Nechells Area Community Education.
  2. Somali women in Birmingham in partnership with Nechells Area Community Education.
  3. Community organisations based in the borough of Westminster, London.
  4. Community groups and service providers in Cardiff in partnership with the Sudanese Women's Rights Group, Cardiff.
  5. The Somali Women Action Group in Glasgow in partnership with the Scottish Refugee Council.

In order to increase the impact of our work, FORWARD is keen to identify, train and support members of FGM practising communities (men and women), to work within their communities on FGM.

Please contact FORWARD if you would like to join FORWARD's peer educators group or/and would like to organise community training for your community members or a community organisation based in your area.

Read FORWARD's Joint Statement on FGM and Islam in collaboration with The Islamic Cultural Centre and The London Central Mosque on their website.

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