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New FORWARD Project Young People Speak Out

New FORWARD Project Young People Speak Out

FORWARD is pleased to announce a new project “Young People Speak Out”. This project seeks to empower young people to take action against gender based violence (GBV), including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the several London boroughs.

By expanding FORWARD’s youth wing, it is hoped that this project will nurture a new generation of young people who are empowered with the necessary skills and motivation to continue FORWARD’s work of promoting the health and rights of girls and women from black and minority ethnic, (BME) communities including FGM practising communities. FORWARD could not have undertaken this project without support from its funding partner the John Lyon’s Charity which is committed to supporting organisations that benefit children and young adults.

The aim of this project is to work in partnership with existing youth services and young people in Brent, Harrow and Westminster to develop an innovative youth-led campaign to stop GBV, including FGM and child and forced marriage. This innovative venture draws on the knowledge and expertise FORWARD has gained over more than 20 years of working with BME communities including FGM practising communities in the UK. It has been specifically designed to provide culturally sensitive education and training on GBV including FGM to disadvantaged young people in the specified London boroughs.

Over three years FORWARD will provide a safe space for young people to articulate their ideas, views and concerns about GBV and FGM in an innovative, youth-friendly and culturally sensitive way through film-screenings, interactive training sessions and group video-making workshops. For example we plan to host a screenings of the award-winning, box-office film ‘Moolaadé’ – an African film directed by Ousmane Sembene, the founding father of African film, about women’s resistance to FGM and other forms of GBV including forced marriage and domestic violence. Furthermore Banyak Filmmakers have expressed an interest in collaborating with FORWARD; this partnership will provide the young people involved with their own opportunity to create movies on issues relating to GBV and FGM by participating in video-making workshops.

Through these and other activities FORWARD aims to empower young girls at risk of FGM enabling them to be in a position to protect themselves and others known to be at risk in an effective and appropriate way. We also hope that young boys, who have participated, will be able to play an active role in the campaign against FGM. These young men and women will then be in a position to develop a cohort of young people, our, ‘Peer Educators’ who will then actively engage in the on-going campaign to end all forms of GBV and provide accurate and up to date information to their peers.

To fulfil our vision, FORWARD has formed partnerships with organisations who are actively involved in the communities that we will work with. The Westminster Refugee Consortium (WRC) Community Officer agreed to support the project and assist FORWARD in reaching young people from African and FGM practising communities through WRC member organisations and in advertising project activities and video workshops. FORWARD consulted with the Sexual Health worker at the Brent Centre for Young People and the result is an agreement to collaborate on work on GBV and sexual health with under 19s from refugee and other disadvantaged communities in Brent. Finally the Sudanese Youth Club (based in Harrow), have agreed to allow us to contribute articles, photos and stories by young people to the production of their existing youth magazine, ‘Bridges’. This will ensure publicity for the project and its activities and provide an extra avenue for reaching a broader audience of disadvantaged youth from BME communities including FGM practising communities in London.

The first stage of this project begins with a Youth Consultation on the 23rd August 2006, at the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund Offices. For more information about this meeting or if you would like to attend please click here.