Launched in 2014, The Girl Generation Campaign is a social change communication initiative that seeks to provide a global platform for galvanising, catalysing, and amplifying the Africa-led movement to end female genital mutilation (FGM). The initiative seeks to bring together campaigners from all over the world to push for change more effectively and to strengthen the Africa-led movement by: communicating positive stories of change, convening events, initiating media advocacy campaigns, and supporting ambassadorship programmes and efforts of African diaspora to help end FGM in their countries of origin. It will also help mobilise increased financial resources to end FGM. At the core of the campaign and its activities is social change communication, which is considered vital in bringing about the necessary changes in social norms and culture to end FGM. The initiative therefore supports the development of locally-owned social change communications strategies in each country that are based on national priorities and are responsive to current contexts and needs. The five-year campaign is being headed by a consortium consisting of Equality Now, FORWARD, and Options Consultancy Services. It is funded by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID). The campaign be being implemented in ten African countries: Kenya, Nigeria, The Gambia, Sudan, Somaliland, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Egypt, and Ethiopia
The Girl Generation social change communication approach is designed to deliver on the following four key outputs:
Output 1: An Africa-led, global collective of organisations working together to End FGM
Through the unifying power of The Girl Generation brand, the initiative seeks to mobilise partnerships with individuals, the African diaspora, grassroots, and national organisations. This involves forming a strong membership base with youth, the media, community leaders, and corporate partners. The campaign relies on members to work together and amplify the movement to end FGM in one generation by engaging new supporters and disseminating messages and positive stories of social change. Organisations then work collaboratively across the 10 focal countries, developing effective social change communication for each context.
Output 2: Partners delivering effective social change communications to end FGM
There are many different contexts in which FGM occurs. Girl Generation believes that local actors are best placed to adapt and deliver communication approaches within their unique context. The initiative works together with the members, learning from their experience and existing knowledge, and responding with tailored support mechanisms informed by the gaps identified by members. The campaign seeks to bring together organisations with complementary skills, renew their understanding of the principles underlying social change communications, and provide resources to structure their communication work.
Output 3: Amplified positive stories of change build the global movement to end FGM at all levels
The campaign believes that amplification of social change - including how, where, and why FGM is ending - is critical in both mobilising a global movement to end FGM and bringing new actors and voices into it at the national and local level. The campaign therefore collects, packages, and amplifies positive stories of social change at multiple levels, giving a louder voice to African grassroots activists and inspiring actors at all levels to learn about, discuss, and ultimately commit to ending FGM. This takes on a variety of forms: identifying relevant events or activities, amplifying stories of change, and creating or joining virtual online opportunities in which to encourage dialogue on ending FGM.
Output 4: FGM mainstreamed on the global development agenda
The campaign believes that global advocacy, including influencing policy and donors, is vital for mainstreaming FGM into development policies and programmes, so additional resources are leveraged to support, strengthen, and expand efforts, particularly at the grassroot level. The campaign sees three ways in which it can contribute towards catalysing global advocacy for FGM: firstly, by ensuring that FGM is mainstreamed in global, regional, and national development policies and agendas, as this will unlock new resources for FGM; secondly, by encouraging international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on wider health, rights, and education for women and girls to include FGM as a vital component of their work; and thirdly, by securing increased commitments to ending FGM from global multilateral, bilateral, and private donors.
The focus of the campaign in terms of the support it provides (capacity building, strategic input, and grants) to local organisations is on social change communication. This is because social change communication:
- Uses locally-led and culturally relevant communications methods to spark discussion and dialogue, inspiring individuals and communities to question their own beliefs;
- Supports and accelerates wider behaviour-change efforts, creating an enabling environment for community-based interventions and broader policy and legal reforms and amplifying change where it is happening;
- Addresses the social and psychological drivers and motivations behind FGM;
- Encourages positive alternatives rather than simply condemning the practice and those who support it;
- Increases the public space for dialogue on the issue, raising its importance on the public agenda and giving confidence to those affected to speak out; and
- Accelerates change at a local level by increasing global, regional, and national solidarity and momentum for change.
As explained in the strategy document of the campaign, “We are driven by the conviction that for FGM to end, there needs to be a positive transformation in the way that girls are valued, and in the beliefs and social norms that underpin FGM. We are confident that communication - which has the power to positively influence the very fabric of society and communities - lies at the heart of this transformation. But this isn’t about simplistic messages or lecturing people about what they should and shouldn’t be doing - this is communication which speaks to the motivations behind the practice, and identifies the very real personal and social barriers that hinder abandonment of FGM. Communication which provides a positive alternative, opens up debate and discussion in the public sphere, prompts individuals to question their acceptance of the practice, and increasingly builds confidence to speak out against it. This is social change communication.” Click here for the Girl Generation strategy document [PDF].
The campaign chose to start implementation in Nigeria, The Gambia, and Kenya because these are countries where rapid implementation is possible, and where substantial potential exists for documenting innovative approaches and sharing learning, which is part of the campaign strategy to learn from what works, build positive momentum, share expertise, and communicate stories of positive change to other countries. Since then, The Girl Generation started working in the following additional countries: Sudan, Somalia, Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and, since 2017, in Egypt and Ethiopia.
Examples of activities so far include:
- the completion of assessments in the ten countries (Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Mali, The Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria);
- the official launches of The Girl Generation campaign in Kenya, Nigeria, and the Gambia, as well as the launch of End FGM Youth Networks in those countries;
- the appointment of ten end FGM ambassadors from Kenya, Nigeria and The Gambia as well as two global brand ambassadors. They will champion the brand and campaign cause within their own communities to help bring about social change.
- the launch of the Global Youth Network, an inspirational hub for youth activists all over the world.
- the building of membership of over 350 anti-FGM organisations, the majority of which are grassroots groups from across the African continent.
- support and participation in Zero Tolerance Day activities in Kenya, Nigeria, and the Gambia (2015, 2016, and 2017);
- conducting of PEER research (published in 2016) in Kenya, on the attitudes of young men to FGM, which will be used to influence the design of communications tools.
- publication of a “Do No Harm Guidance Note” [PDF] for partners to ensure that organisastions working to address FGM understand the complexities and the sensitivities around FGM.
- a call for grants, which seek to accelerate social change to end FGM through communications, advocacy, and campaigning. Click here for more information on the call for proposals.
To find out more about the campaign on social media, see:
Girls, Rights, FGM
The campaign is run by a consortium of partners consisting of Equality Now, FORWARD, and Options Consultancy Services. It is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Girl Generation website and “The Girl Generation Strategic Plan 2015-2020”[PDF] on January 31 2017, and email from Lyndsey Jefferson, Girl Generation Campaign on February 15 2017.