153620 Strategic Impact Inquiry to Evaluate Empowerment of Women in relation to FGC (Female Genital Cutting) in Afar/Ethiopia

Monday, November 5, 2007

Barbara Pose, MD, MPH, DTM&PH , SRH Programm, CARE Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Asmare Ayele, MSc , Program Design and Quality Support, CARE Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Sara Buchanan, MA, BA , Program Design and Quality Support, CARE Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Amdie Kidanewold, MSc , Program Design and Quality Support, CARE Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Since 1998 CARE Ethiopia has addressed FGC in the pastoralist communities of Afar, where female ‘infibulation' is part of the cultural identity. The projects have made a positive impact on the Afar pastoralist women's marginalization and rights denial, confirmed by external evaluations. In 2005 CARE Ethiopia embarked on a strategic Impact Inquiry on women's empowerment in relation to FGC in Afar to verify the degree of empowerment, the decrease of FGC and come up with a replicable model.

Five field trips collected data from open ended questions in In-depth interviews and Focus Group Discussions, supported by observation. The collected data were construed by using the Interpretative approach.

Defining empowerment in Afar language was challenging. Women's social status and ‚power' is dependent on marriage which demands circumcision. The different projects addressing FGC among other health and livelihood issues have impacted on the communities by increasing women's participation in public meetings and girls accessing education, increased health knowledge on Malaria, hygiene and FGC. The taboo of not talking about FGC was broken. However, the practice itself remained widely unchanged.

Many FGC elimination projects experience a clash of cultural perceptions. Traditional Afar communities value their members not as individuals but according to their worth to the whole community, FGC elimination can't be addressed solely by health education or human rights approach. Looking on the social context is as crucial to success as a non-judgmental approach. Activities must include men as the major decision makers and address women as activists rather than as victims.

Learning Objectives:
analyze possible expected and unexpected Outcomes of an anti-Female Genital Cutting project understand the complexity of social relations and committments in a traditional African community

Keywords: Rural Communities, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.