«Foundation for Women’s Health,Research & Development ( FORWARD) Annual Report 2003 - 2004 Contents 2 Forward Patrons 14 Promoting The Rights of ...»
Women’s Health,Research &
Development ( FORWARD)
Annual Report 2003 - 2004
2 Forward Patrons 14 Promoting The Rights of Women
2 Council of Management & Girls in Africa
2 Founder 14 FORWARD Nigeria
2 Reflections 16 New Funding For a Well Woman &
Child Centre (WWCC) in Dambatta
17 Baseline Study on Child & Early
4 20 Years and Still Moving Marriage in Nigeria FORWARD!
18 Ghana Project:‘Promoting the Rights of 5 FGM Act 2003 Young Women & Girls in Northern 6 David Blunkett visits FORWARD Ghana’ 8 ‘The Broken Silence’ Launch 20 The Forum on Marriage and the Rights 9 The Launch of ‘Female Genital of Women & Girls Mutilation:Treating The Tears’ 21 The Ouagadougou Technical 10 Promoting Change and Consultation on Child Marriages Strengthening Services in the UK 22 The Ouagadougou Declaration on 10 Positive Partnership Project Child Marriages, October 2003 10 FORWARD at The London Central 24 Financial Statement Mosque 24 Income 11 UK Training 24 Expenditure 12 European Research on Laws & Policies 25 FORWARD News on FGM 25 FOR WARD’s New Offices 13 Fundraising in The UK 26 The FORWARD Team 13 FORWARD Supporters Walking For 27 Special Thanks
2 FOR WARD was once again pushed into the limelight to take leadership in ensuring that the UK government’s new policy becomes operational.
Our funding increased considerably in 2003, thanks to the UK Government and trusts, who believed in us and our work to reach the unreachable. However, we continue to work at half our capacity and one lesson from this year is that a more global and effective role for FORWARD can only be possible if we have more funding to develop and support our new partnership initiatives.
We would like to express our gratitude to the staff of FORWARD who have given one hundred per cent of their time and passion to help meet all our targets. Finally, to all our friends and supporters, you have provided the fuel to enable us to make change happen and help instil hope for a better future for African girls.We are grateful to you all and encourage you to read this report which charts our successes in 2003.
Adwoa & Naana
On 3rd March 2004, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 was enacted.
The law technically came into effect in Oct 2003, but its implementation was deferred until March.The new law makes three changes to the previous Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985. The most important change being the introduction of the concept of extraterritoriality.This means that girls who are taken abroad to undergo FGM will now be protected by the UK law.The parents / guardians / carers of girls who are British nationals or UK permanent residents will be liable for prosecution if they subject them to FGM (even in countries where FGM is legal).The 2003 Act also increases the penalty for aiding, abetting and counselling to procure FGM, from five to fourteen years’ imprisonment or a fine or both!!. FORWARD recognises that these changes in the law will increase the level of protection for children from FGM practising communities, who are at risk of being removed from the UK for the purposes of FGM.
While FORWARD welcomes the strengthening of the law on FGM we also recognises the importance of empowering communities to protect their girls from FGM. Therefore we see the law as working in parallel with and strengthening community prevention initiatives. It is essential that practising communities become more active and accountable.Therefore, community protection of girls is critical to the successful implementation effectiveness of the new law.
FORWARD is however concerned that there has been no concerted Government initiative to ensure that practising communities in the UK are aware of the new law and the consequences of flouting the law. To enact a law without any clear strategy to raise awareness within the communities it affects, is counterproductive.
For further information or for copies of the female genital mutilation Act 2003, contact the FORWARD office.
ABOVE: FORWARD with the Author (Left).
9 Promoting Change and Strengthening Services in the UK Positive Partnership Project The Positive Partnership Project (in conjunction with Nechells Association for Community Education (N.A.C.E) Birmingham) organised an initial meeting with Somali women from the Nechells area.
The meeting was used to inform the women about the new FGM Act 2003 and to get their views on how information about the law could best be publicised. The meeting provided some interesting insights into the cultural rationalisations underpinning FGM, and these will be used to focus FORWARD’s campaigns and interventions. The women offered suggestions about publicising the law, including using the BBC Somali Service, using, Somali websites, identifying and asking religious leaders to speak out against FGM as an un-Islamic practice. The meeting ended with FORWARD and N.A.C.E agreeing to examine ways of working together in the future.
FORWARD at The London Central Mosque
On 12th-13th July 2003, FORWARD attended a health awareness event at the London Central Mosque and Islamic Centre. This was the third time since 2001 that we had participated in a health fair at the Central Mosque.The general response to our presence was very positive, and it proved an excellent opportunity to distribute information packs and talk to both women, and men about the harmful effects of FGM. As usual, visitors to our stall were most interested in the free copies of the booklet entitled, ‘The Right Path to Health: Islamic ruling on male and female circumcision’.We gave away almost all the copies we had brought with us. It was heartening to hear from some of the women we spoke to, that
UK Training As part of our FOR WARD’s mission to provide information and to help support the statutory sector to provide appropriate and sensitive services to FGM practising communities, FOR WARD offers tailor made training for health, social services and education staff. In the last year we have provided training to the statutory sector – various social services departments and to education staff.We have provided training to professionals including a training day organised at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as well as midwives and medical students. We have also continued to use raise awareness and challenge FGM and other gender violent practises within African communities and work in partnership with other NGOs to achieve this.To further our impact, we have held the second FORWARD peer educators training to educate and empower women from FGM practising communities to raise FGM issues with their families and friends.The objective of the peer education initiative is to identify people from communities to work with their communities to challenge FGM. FORWARD believes that this is one way in which the campaign against FGM can be built on and sustained within communities.
FORWARD is always looking for people (especially men) to join the campaign as peer educators, if you are interested in being a FORWARD peer educator, call Adwoa on 020 8960 4000.
11European Research on Laws & Policies on FGM
FOR WARD represents the UK as part of a five-country research project on FGM and legislation, which is funded by the Daphne line of the EU budget. The other countries involved are Spain, Sweden, Belgium and France.The UK country report attempts to document the UK situation in respect of what is known about the prevalence of FGM, the legislation and the factors that aid or impede the implementation of that legislation in the UK.
The methodology employed was to identify five key informants in the UK and to hold semi-structured interviews with them.The aim of the interviews was to ascertain the informants’ knowledge, views and experiences in relation to FGM, FGM legislation and the factors that adversely affect or assist the implementation of legislation.
Adwoa Kwateng-Kluvitse, FOR WARD’s Director interviewed Naana Otoo-Oyortey (Technical Support Officer, International Planned Parenthood Federation), Christian Bekoe-Tabiri (a solicitor who has won several cases relating to FGM in the UK), Comfort Momoh (the UK’s premier FGM specialist midwife), Rahmat Mohammad (Nigeria project co-ordinator) and Anita Gibbons (Head of Child Protection, Social Services) who served as the key informants. Other individuals were contacted, and their contributions enhanced the research.The project was completed early in 2004 and offers a fascinating overview on legislation in the countries involved.
13 Promoting The Rights of Women & Girls in Africa FORWARD-Nigeria The, FOR WARD-Nigeria Project in Dambatta, Kano state is in its fifth year of implementation.A total of 156 girls/women have been admitted to the rehabilitation centre in the past four years.There has been a ten per cent drop-out rate.
In line with its holistic approach, the project continues to campaign to prevent Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in young women through creating a culture of female empowerment and education, raising awareness of general health, reproductive health and rights issues, and integrating the role of women into mainstream community development programmes.
The project develops outreach literacy classes, works with rural women (who have not suffered from VVF) to raise awareness of their civil and political rights, and has established community health committees to work with newly created Well-Woman and Child Health Centre.
All past clients (residents) of the rehabilitation centre have since been reintegrated into their communities, empowered with skills and knowledge of good health and economic development. Some of them have returned to their husbands or have remarried, and now have children who have a greater chance of a better quality of life.
FOR WARD is proud of this innovative project because it is one of the only initiatives in the world that has an in-built element of rehabilitation and social reintegration into the community.The reintegration element ensures that the girls and women are emotionally supported after they have left the project, and that they are able to retain the learning they acquired while in the project.The after-support also enables FOR WARD to provide information and support in the instance of subsequent pregnancy (to date none of our girls/women has had another obstetric 14 fistula after taking part in the project!) The girls and women are pleased to be linked to FORWARD and eagerly return every year for the graduation ceremony for the next batch of girls.
FORWARD UK had to totally support this project over this last year as there was no funding for the project, while officers sought funding from a variety of sources However, recently the local government has been so impressed with the project that they have agreed to support it by funding the salaries of some unskilled staff. FORWARD continues to seek funding to keep this vital project going as the doctor, the economic development teacher, the literacy teacher among others are not funded by the government.To support the FOR WARD-Nigeria project – please mark donations clearly ‘Nigeria project’.
Past clients with their babies, born after recovery from VVF Surgery and rehabilitation.
FORWARD-VVF Centre in Dambatta
In February 2004, FORWARD received positive news from the Community Fund (now known as the Big Lottery Fund). FORWARD had proposed Well Woman and Child Centres (WWCC) in Kano State and Jigawa States in Nigeria, where women could come for antenatal and postnatal care.This project has now received the necessary funding from the Big Lottery Fund for a four-year (2004-2008) maternal and child health project. The project will be launched in October 2004. The WWCC will also be used as maternity waiting centres for pregnant past clients who though continent may be at risk of developing another fistula. Presently, when past clients become pregnant, FORWARD refers them to the Dambatta General Hospital, which does not have any special protocol in place for women who have had VVF repair.As a result, only one of the recorded thirteen post surgery deliveries took place in the hospital.The WWCC will improve service delivery for both mathers and children in the two states.
16Baseline Study on Child & Early Marriage in Nigeria
Comic Relief funded a baseline study on the issues of child and forced marriage in Kano and Jigawa States of Nigeria.The study was developed within a comprehensive proposal. It is expected that FORWARD will develop an intervention proposal from the outcome of the study. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to collect information for the study.
The study, which was conducted between January-June 2004, came out with some
interesting findings which include:
Forced and child marriage - The majority of the respondents (84.8%) said that forced marriage is common in their communities.
Almost 50% said that the victims of forced marriage will accept the situation and stay with their spouses as they will accept such imposition as ‘their fate’.
Choice of Spouse - The males in the communities appear not to have much choice in who they marry, as 94.3% of the respondents said that parents or family heads actually choose spouses for their female children.A similar trend was observed among females.This may be connected to the need to establish political and social links with families of choice, as well as safe guarding who future in-laws will be. Respondants believed that these are the basic reasons why parents choose mates for their children.