Sudan: NCA, Royal Norwegian Embassy, and Partners, together assessing Child & Early Forced Marriage for a just world.
NCA Sudan was pleased to host the Norwegian Ambassador to Sudan, Therese Løken Gheziel. NCA and partners presented a joint program's Baseline Assessment of Social Norms related to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and Child & Early Forced Marriage (FGM/C & CEFM). With funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, NCA works closely with Save the Children International, the Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA), Ahfad University for Women (AUW), and the Emergency Relief Rehabilitation and Development Agency (ERRADA). In South Kordofan and Central Darfur states, NCA supported AUW in conducting the assessment to learn more on key findings, gaps in perceptions, and what essential activities are needed most to address root causes of continuation and perceptions towards FGM/C & CEFM.
After remarks from NCA Sudan Country Director, Dirk Hanekom, and NCA Sudan FGM/C Specialist, Kjersti Augland, AUW presented preliminary findings from the study.
Ambassador Gheziel wrapped up the presentation speaking on the importance of the work in this program and opened the floor for inspiring and heartfelt discussions. The three-year joint program aims to transform dominant norms to protect girls and women from FGM/C and CEFM, and to secure access to lifesaving and humanitarian services, such as NCA's Climate Smart Economic Empowerment, Climate Resilient Water, Sanitation & Hygiene programs, and Health & Nutrition assistance.
The Baseline Assessment of Social Norms related to FGM/C & CEFM explores how communities set preconditions, decipher, and convey the social norms that either promote or discourage FGM/C & CEFM, and how these elements should inform humanitarian programming, advocacy, and intervention-methodologies for effective influence. Parents, grandmothers, adolescent boys and girls, and key informants participated in questionnaires, focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews pertaining to factors that could sway public opinion to abandon the practice. Such topics included: Awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM/C & CEFM, negative previous experiences, legalities, and case reporting to a Family and Child Protection Unit. Preliminary findings from the assessment point to a multitude of factors that still pave the way for FGM/C & CEFM to be practiced despite the plethora of reasons not to: Armed conflict, personal belief misconceptions, insufficient funding for midwives; remote or prejudiced communities, fear of stigma, scattered international efforts to combat FGM/C & CEFM, a dearth of specific programs to support the value of the girl...to name just a few. Some of the preliminary findings shows the need for long term interventions, behavioral change interventions as well as programmes that supports the positive valuing of the girl child without going through FGM/C or CEFM.
FGM/C & CEFM are culturally entrenched persistent practices, generally associated with socioeconomic repercussions on girls and women, and their families and communities. The practice constitutes extreme forms of violence, abuse, and violation of human rights against children, girls, and women. FGM/C has no medical benefits and is associated with serious health complications.
NCA Sudan wishes to thank the Royal Embassy of Norway, Ambassador Gheziel, Save the Children International, AUW, NuWEDA, and ERRADA as we continue this important work together for a just world.