Commitment to human dignity for all doesn’t stop now

With added protective measures against COVID-19, Cuso’s work to end female genital mutilation continues

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is still a strongly rooted practice in northern Benin, affecting an estimated 70 per cent of girls and women in remote communities.

As the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Cuso’s work to support these girls and women is more critical than ever. Adhering to physical distancing and hygiene best practices, Cuso is committed to working with local women leaders to end FGM.

Taking place in the Alibori and Borgou regions, more than 130 villages are committed to ensuring human dignity for all. Nearly 400 people have been identified as agents of change.

“Indeed, the agents of change are women and girl leaders living in the communities and identified by their peers,” says Ernestine Denami, Cuso’s Country Representative in Benin and Women Committed to Human Dignity project manager. “They will carry out the actions of the project in order to achieve the desired change—the reduction of FGM in their communities.”

Limiting the number of people in each workshop, washing hands, wearing masks and keeping a safe physical distance from others allows this work to move ahead.

“The participants are interviewed by a health worker to identify if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Preventive measures, with a special focus on how to wash hands effectively, are discussed,” says Ernestine. “The training sessions not only foster learning, but also allow participants to observe safety measures in the context of preventing COVID-19.”

Participants are receiving training on leadership, developing intervention techniques and increasing community knowledge about the risks of FGM.

The project is focused on community education, supporting young girls and survivors of sexual violence, and engaging men and boys in discussions on healthy and positive relationships.