Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFMU) are framed within development discourses as major causes of gendered health inequalities, resulting in significant investment by the international community to reduce them. For 15 years, the main approaches for tackling these issues have been girls empowerment approaches (GEAs) and social norms change. Yet, anthropologists, postcolonial scholars and critical public health practitioners have critiqued these behaviour change models and interventions for their Euro-North-American-centric biases and lack of sensitivity to cultural dynamics. In relation to FGM/C and CEFMU, these programme strategies can be minimally effective at reducing these practices, and often result in community backlash and resistance. Hence, calls have been made to ‘decolonise’ global health by opening up knowledge production to more diverse perspectives, and proposing alternative approaches grounded in local priorities, worldviews and concerns. This project aims to contribute to this agenda by investigating how policy and programme strategies on FGM/C and CEFMU in Africa are produced at international and national levels, and where the opportunities to shift the discourse lie. These findings will be used to guide a process, informed by systems change approaches to institutional change, of strategizing and collective action with local community members and organisations, to effectively promote decolonial alternatives within national and international policy-making spaces.
  • Funded by: NFWO Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Time period: October 2022-September 2025
  • People involved: Anneke Newman
  • Knowledge partner: Judi Aubel, Director, NGO Grandmother Project-Change Through Culture