PREVENTING Female genital cutting (FGC)
There is insufficient empirical research to inform public policy, interventions and advocacy on FGC in immigrant and refugee communities in the United States. To date, no sustainable initiatives have been launched at the local level to engage a broader array of immigrant and refugee communities in the United States. And, no efforts have been made to develop best practices that could improve outcomes for this vulnerable group of immigrant women and girls.
Sauti Yetu’s work on FGC in New York City draws upon a decade of experience impacting public policy by developing evidence-based programs, women and girl's leadership and social support networks, and conducting trainings on the topic of FGC. Sauti Yetu's community engagement and supportive services include but are not limited to the following:
- Provide Accurate and non-sensational information on FGC
- Supportive counseling for circumcised women, girls and families who request it
- Advocate for culturally and linguistically appropriate services
- Provide Safe Spaces for community dialogue and reflection
- Facilitate mother/daughter dialogue around FGC and other gender specific topics
- Training for service providers, specifically the child welfare system;
- Develop education and information materials;
- Advocacy to reduce stigma and discrimination against circumcised girls and women in the United States
- Promote poor and low income women's leadership and advocacy in their respective communities; and
- Engage community leaders (religious and traditional) and
- Mobilize youth, starting with immigrant girls.
A Process of Social Change
Sauti Yetu has learned that changing a community's social norms is a process, not a single event, and is fostered by the community itself, and not a single individual. We work within communities to understand their concerns and their understanding of FGC to affect change rather than haphazardly forcing messages from outside. Sauti Yetu's efforts to influence behavioral and social change is systematic and targeted towards each community. Sauti Yetu has become skilled facilitators of individual and collective change by working with, guiding, facilitating, and supporting African immigrant and refugee communities in New York City along a journey of change.
Sauti Yetu utilizes multi-disciplinary research designs as a means to inform public policy, design interventions and support women and girls. To this end, we are conducting our own research via national and local surveys, and as well partnering with researchers, community members including leaders and youth, to document the prevalence, attitude, and knowledge regarding the practice. These projects are informed by the context/experience of migration, stigma/stereotypes, and racial prejudices against African immigrants in general and African immigrant women and girls in particular. Immigrants and refugees coming from societies where FGC is prevalent are racial minorities in western countries, and face multiple intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression.