FGM Work in Ireland: AkiDwA's Pioneering Efforts Since 2001

Since its inception in 2001, AkiDwA has been at the forefront of efforts to combat Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Ireland, engaging in activities aimed at raising awareness, promoting the health of migrant women, and advocating for legislation to outlaw the practice. The organization's commitment to this cause was significantly bolstered in 2005 following consultations with women from communities where FGM is practiced. These discussions led to a pivotal partnership with the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) and the joint development of a National Plan of Action to address FGM in Ireland in 2008, supported by a diverse steering committee that included children’s advocacy groups, and women and human rights organizations.

Over the years, AkiDwA has concentrated its efforts in three main areas to combat FGM:

Community Engagement: This includes the support and delivery of activities within communities affected by FGM, aiming to educate and raise awareness about the implications of the practice.

Training for Frontline and Healthcare Professionals: AkiDwA has been instrumental in upskilling, raising awareness among, and educating healthcare providers and frontline workers about FGM, thereby equipping them with the necessary tools to offer support to affected individuals.

Policy Engagement: The organization engages with service providers and policymakers to foster a comprehensive understanding of FGM, advocating for the development and implementation of prevention strategies and support mechanisms for those affected. A significant focus is placed on policy review, recognizing FGM as a form of DSGBV, and ensuring that actions and activities are incorporated into Ireland's third national DSGBV strategy.

To date, AkiDwA has delivered training to over 8,000 healthcare professionals and has played a crucial role in the enactment of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2012. Through its training programs and the support of community health ambassadors, AkiDwA has reached thousands in communities affected by FGM across the country. Over the past fifteen years, the organization has led the national steering committee on FGM, conducted research, and developed and published several training and awareness materials.

AkiDwA's collaboration with partners at the EU level has further amplified its campaign against FGM, including the development of online training for various professionals. The organization's efforts are exemplified by specific projects funded by the EU under CERV-2022-DAPHNE, such as the "Join Our Chain" and "Chat Plus" projects, which stand as testament to AkiDwA's ongoing commitment to the eradication of FGM.

Join My Chain - FGM: The "Join Our CHAIN" project aims to prevent and eliminate the harmful practices of FGM and early and forced marriage (EFM) among affected communities in three EU member states: Germany (DE), Italy (IT), and Ireland (IE), in collaboration with the European Network End FGM EU. Both practices are recognized as forms of GBV that often intersect. The project seeks to address these issues through community empowerment, training, and capacity building of key professionals, as well as sensitization of relevant stakeholders, employing a community-based and gender-sensitive approach. Eight community trainers have been recruited to collaborate with AkiDwA in implementing activities, with Mallow in Cork designated as AkiDwA's county of delivery.

Chat Plus - FGM: This EU partnership project focuses on changing attitudes towards FGM by engaging young people to become drivers in its elimination across Europe. The project involves training and empowering young activists from the second and third generations, producing training materials such as videos and podcasts, and delivering training and awareness-raising activities on FGM to diplomats, healthcare professionals, and public services, including schools.