Community-Based Interventions Can Change Detrimental Social Norms: Experience from the Navrongo Female Genital Mutilation Experiment
Philip B. Adongo, Navrongo Health Research Centre
Elizabeth F. Jackson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Livesy Abokyi, Navrongo Health Research Centre
Reshma Naik, Navrongo Health Research Centre
Ellie Feinglass, Population Council
Patricia Akweongo, Navrongo Health Research Centre
The Navrongo Health Research Centre in Northern Ghana implemented a five-year study to test two strategies - community mass education and livelihood skills - for eliminating female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice which is prevalent in the three northern regions of Ghana. Documentation of the mechanisms and consequences of social change involved in such initiatives is largely absent from the current body of FGM intervention research. This paper presents results from a multifaceted qualitative study examining the social consequence of the intervention, including the impact on circumcised women and girls, the transition to adulthood, traditional sexuality education, gender identity, and changes relating to cultural and religious practices, with a particular focus on funeral and marital customs. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews conducted with communities indicate that participants are willing to change their practices if programs are culturally sensitive and carefully implemented.