Posts Tagged ‘social change’

Norwegian Human Rights Fund publishes its theory of change

May 20, 2020

Perhaps the home-bound period of the pandemic is a good time to reflect more deeply on the way we work. The Norwegain Human Rights Fund has done this [see also:] and now reports the first result:

The development of the theory of changewas a participatory process involving the NHRF Secretariat, its Board, NHRF local consultants, and a selection of grantee partners. It is a living document that represents our theory of how change is created and driven forward. It articulates expected outcomes and their preconditions that, together, form pathways of change that lead to the overall goal. We understand these processes to be non-linear, interconnected, interdependent, mutually reinforcing, and occurring simultaneously or separately. The theory of change will guide our work as a partner and grantmaker by informing the support we provide to human rights work to achieve the defined outcomes and overall goal. It is one of the key elements used in our monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes. We will regularly review and refine the theory of change as we assess if our interventions are bringing about change and if the pathways of change are accurate and realistic.

Download our Theory of Change

Profile of Fahma Mohamed, a young British anti-FGM human rights defender

February 19, 2016

19 year-old British human rights defender, Fahma Mohamed, is committed to freeing the world of female genital mutilation (FGM), starting with her own community in Bristol, UK. From when she first heard about the practice of FGM from a teacher at the age of 14, Fahma Mohamed started to challenge its practice, one that studies estimate affects up to 137,000 women and girls in the UK alone.

‘I remember being in complete shock. I’m from an FGM affected community. Why didn’t anyone talk about it? Why isn’t anyone doing anything to stop it? Then I tried to put myself in their position. I couldn’t.’

Miss Mohamed is trustee of Integrate Bristol, an organization working, among other things, to eradicate FGM. Along with colleagues she spearheaded a petition campaign that collected over 230,000 signatures and earned the support of Malala Yousefzai and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. The campaign resulted in mandatory training for all education staff on FGM.

‘We are still fighting for awareness on FGM to be taught in all classrooms across the UK. So many girls, both in the UK and further afar, are going through this absolutely traumatic experience. I saw it as my responsibility to give a voice to these young girls, many of whom have no support system and suffer entirely alone.’

Miss Mohamed identifies as a human rights defender, seeing it as a means to give voice to victims and encourage and empower other women and girls to voice their own opposition to FGM.

‘Many women from my Somali community were once afraid to speak out. Now, they’ve joined our campaign and, most notably, pledged not to put their daughters or their daughters’ daughters through it.’ Fahma is quick to underline the vast difference in her work as a defender and the particularly precarious situation of many defenders elsewhere.

‘For me it’s inspiring to hear people put their lives on the line for freedom. My battles are incomparable to theirs.’

However, Fahma’s FGM campaign has received its fair share of backlash. When Integrate Bristol first started to work on the issue, FGM wasn’t mentioned in the media much. Many voices argued that the problem was being exaggerated. On one occasion a group of 75 men, led by a female councilor in Bristol, protested outside the premiere of their film on FGM, Silent Scream.

‘They protested and chanted against us, we were 14 at the time! Some men even approached the families of the actors in our film, trashing the movie as a “porn film”. They were insisting that our teacher was forcing us.’

Integrate Bristol works to encourage young people to get involved in the fight against FGM. They have produced YouTube films and songs, including ‘Buckle Up’ and ‘Use Your Head’, as means to spread the word. These resources on challenging FGM have been shared with anti-FGM activists in other parts of the world, notably in Africa.

Miss Mohamed welcomes the UN response to FGM, including the first General Assembly resolution on the issue in 2012. As the General Assembly Third Committee continues its negotiations of a new resolution, Ms Mohamed stressed the importance of ensuring an explicit reference to FGM as a human rights violation.

‘Young girls are irreversibly mutilated against their will, and devastated physically, emotionally and mentally. Surely the deprivation of rights over your own body can only be described as a gross violation. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of girls are being cut right at this moment. If the UN skirts around the issue, or hides behind euphemistic language, how will we help these girls? Or worse, how will we ever eradicate the custom if we can’t even say what it is?’

Miss Mohamed noted that if the UN did characterize FGM as a violation, this would resonate through the world, highlight the severity of FGM and underscore a global condemnation of the practice. She noted in particular that this could push the agenda in schools in countries such as Nigeria and Gambia where FGM is prevalent.

‘With education as our main weapon in this fight, we will end FGM once and for all.’

see also:


This profile appeared in the Monitor of the ISHR of 10 November 2014: Fahma Mohamed: British anti-FGM human rights defender | ISHR

How media play a crucial role in social change in Afghanistan – really worth seeing

June 1, 2015

At the 2015 Oslo Freedom Forum (26 May) Australian-Afghan media entrepreneur Saad Mohseni describes how in 2006 he returned to the country of his birth, where he and his brother started by setting up set up a radio station and then a television station in postwar Afghanistan. In a fascinating performance he argues that even after decades of unrest, the country can improve its human rights situation and build a more stable future. According to Mohseni, change has not come about through government or international action alone. Instead, media has played a transformative role in rebuilding Afghanistan. Mohseni tells us about the successes of soap operas in strengthening women’s rights, as well as televised football’s role in bringing citizens together and providing role models. Mohseni believes that Afghanistan has changed significantly due to radio, internet, and television, and that media will continue to play an important role in the future.

Join on-line Conversation on the power of narrative for HRDs as from today

October 14, 2013

You can Join the Center for Story-based Strategy CSS and the New Tactics community for an online conversation on Change the Story: Harnessing the power of narrative for social change from October 14 to 18.

People and communities use stories to understand the world and our place in it. These stories are embedded with power – the power to explain and justify the status quo as well as the power to make change imaginable and urgent. …This conversation is an opportunity for human rights defenders to learn more about story-based strategy and how to integrate it into campaign planning. This is also an opportunity for those practitioners using story-based strategy to share their experiences, questions, and ideas with each other. Practitioners to lead this conversation are:

Danielle Coates-Connor, Conversation Facilitator of the Center for Story-based Strategy

Nathan Schneider of Waging Nonviolence

Soriano of Lionswrite Communications

Kathleen Pequeño of the Progressive Communicators Network

Nadia Khastaqir of the Design Action Collective

Kristi Rendahl of the Center for Victims of Torture

Lama Sangye and Justin Von Bujdoss of the New York Tsurphu Goshir Dharma Center

Chris Cavanagh of the Catalyst Centre

Dr. Cara Lisa Berg Powers of Press Pass TV

Laura Revels, Digital Storytelling Trainer

Shreya Atrey, practitioner.

September’s Conversation on Media Tactics for Social Change now has a summary posted and in November there will be a Conversation on Visualizing Information for Advocacy, in partnership with Tactical Technology Collective.

via Join our conversation on the power of narrative, this week!.

Social change comes from ‘tipping persons’ such as HRDs

October 1, 2011

The following excerpt from a much longer article in the Christian Science Monitor is a well-formulated description of the the crucial role of human rights defenders. The author, Courtney Martin, comes to the passage quoted below after analyzing how engrained the tradition of ‘child brides’ is and comparing it to her own (feminist) opposition to the the institution of marriage as such. In the process she makes a number of valid points about other big social changes (foot binding; female circumcision).

Those who study how traditions shift have found that, rather than a tipping point, there is often a “tipping person” who makes all the difference. In other words, those with clout in the community can be pivotal influencers in shifting whole communities’ perspectives and practices. According to a 2009 report by The International Center for Research for Women that looked closely at such examples, “Mobilizing the support of influential males in the innovation system was a powerful, commonly employed strategy that enabled more dramatic results in women’s empowerment.”

We look at social change with a macro lens so often, but rarely do we zoom in on this micro truth – large-scale change requires individuals who are willing to take a chance on a new idea or practice. It requires individual discomfort and courage and flexibility. This is what maturity – in an individual or in a society – is really about. We must deeply consider the radical power of abandoning some traditions and re-imagining others.

For those who are interested in the full article:

Feminist and child-marriage proponents have something in common | Alaska Dispatch.