Wednesday, March 9, 2016

focusing on gender parity

Today, 8th March,  the International Women’ Day, the world celebrates the progress made towards women’s rights.  Women continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement.  This year’s theme focuses on gender parity but progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places. The slowdown in the pace of progress revealed the gender gap wouldn't close entirely until 2133 according to The World Economic Forum estimate in 2015.

Let’s commit collectively to take action to accelerate gender Parity and help Women and Girls to achieve their ambitions all over the world.

Wish you happy women

Wish you happy women day and long live to all women around the world and specially Sudanese 
women who did not and will not give up contribute to political and socio - economic achievements.
Sincere and love greetings on the occasion of 8th of March to women who are in prisons, stranded 
on boarders, struggling in IDPs and Refugees' camps for those who are deserted by their family
 because of Fistula diseases.  Special greetings for all mothers those who work
 14 hours a day for $ 4  for women activists those who sacrificing their time energy and some times give
 their lives  to save women's lives and maintain women human rights
Greetings to all of you women in every corner around the world

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Saleema Initiative for Communication...The Beginnings

Saleema InitiativeforCommunication
The Beginnings
From where did the idea of Saleema Initiative come and how it turned into a reality??
Dr. Samira Amin Ahmed
Saleema initiative is a local initiative for communication and reaching out about a sensitive topic that has occupied the minds of people with ongoing work thereon for decades and it has acquired a lot of experience that benefited so many people. Before going to the whole issue, I would like to say that Saleema aims to open new areas and dialogues for discussion and communication to talk about something well known to many families, the society and friends about the march of the life of any young lady or girl in Sudan.
The issue sums up in how the Sudanese people would initiate a new debate around how the girl should be left without being affected by the female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) i.e. the girls circumcision and since the matter took so long before being put forward in the media, but Saleema however, has taken a wide area in the communication and opened up new questions that rendered it important to tell Saleema story in the Sudan and how all the activities were successful in education, training and raising awareness in the villages besides, too many to mention, studies and researches were conducted, thus we nonetheless must thank those who have ceaselessly worked and are still working since the nineteen-forties in nonstop activities that are still ongoing in Sudan.
The important questions remain on:
*      Why the female circumcision habit is still ongoing in high rate in Sudan?
*      Why noteworthy national information and special or case studies necessitate insistent response?
*      It was necessary to review the work methods and approaches in Sudan and get the community involved to stand on all the problems and the lifelong harm the circumcised girl sustained with no result reflecting on the rates of practicing female circumcision?
*      There is still a rate of no less than 80% being repeated every 5 years in surveys and official statistics of the age group 15-49 years, but the most important question is: Is there any change in the lack of awareness of the practice of female genital mutilation/ cutting (FMG/C) in the age group of 15-49 years?
According to the National Household Health Survey, the trends of the people's awareness began to improve, whereas the answer of the mothers asked whether they intend to circumcise their daughters or not was no. Although there is a gap between the level of knowledge and the improvement in trends and the actual practice, but there may come an historic moment in the decline of such practices and there will be a better future for those.
In the year 2002, there was a strategy with the Ministry of Health addressing all the efforts to work together in a national program to reduce the harmful habit, promote healthy practices, improve knowledge and raise health awareness and provide the people with the information leading to a decline in the girls' circumcision practice. By the end of the strategy and in the light of the results of the National Household Health Survey in the Year 2006, it was difficult to measure the change in comparison with the previous studies for the engagement of the essential age group with the no reduction of the rate of circumcision, whereas the results of the survey showed a decline in the rate among the age group of 0-50 years, but there was no statistics to measure the shift or change.
A Personal Experience: A Review of the Negative Messages' Impact
I personally used one of the movies of female circumcision in both ways; the so-called (Sunnah i.e. Islamic and Pharaonic) in different sessions with specific groups. It led in some cases to fainting of some of the audience as the movie was actually shocking because it photographs the complete circumcision operation, which was by large unknown to the viewers. Therefore, new approaches must be invented and reconsider the present ones with the creation of a space for communication and reaching out, though I do not here refer to the radio and TV but I mean the everyday talk (among the ordinary people). The previous messages were sent from experts, which are considered readymade messages that are expressed and talk about in a shocking way in the form of blood and razors. These messages are in general negative messages that have lowered the practice but not in the desired rates.
Here new insights and visions started calling for acceleration to get the community talk in a different way.  The search led, at this stage, to seeking the assistance of experts from the previous activists, religious scholars and clerics and language specialists and others so the research led to and confirmed that the problem lies in: -
*       The concern which haunts the parents of the talk that their daughter is uncircumcised (stigma) and this concern is an inherited popular culture
*       The used language was very negative and connotes defamation and (insult) with a clear linguistic stigma in the word of (ghalfa i.e. a colloquial disgraceful name-calling meaning uncircumcised) because it has meanings and relevance to other concepts linked to misconduct, prostitution and social unacceptability and also linked to impurity, whilst the pro-circumcision language is positive and persuasive for it urges for purity, chastity and cleanliness
*       The expected community behavior and initial response (for example, if the people start abandoning the female circumcision, we will abandon it and vice versa)
*       The female circumcision abandonment decisions were individualistic decisions and need collective support.
These sources of concern necessitated consultation around new ways and means stemming out from the community hence came the research in the language and linking it to a popular culture based on a new framework negating the values ​​associated with the female circumcision while not scratching or compromising the values \ old context ​​(the sexual happiness – harmony- compliance - purity - chastity), thus from here came the idea of ​​Saleema as a new context that does not compromise the old framework of values ​​since the stages for reaching Saleema were formed from a thorough review of all the previous messages in a demonstration through which the male/female participants and male/female specialists discussed the advantages and complexities of the previous messages.
Following several stages of analysis, we found that we need a new expertise and a new language to communicate, so the intellectuals and experts started searching in the language for names carrying the contents of the positive message that the society needs, away from the messages that carry the nature of commands (stop.. quit), thus several terms were selected with their full meanings so different words came like nice, perfect, clean, sweet and pure, and then came the word pure from purity (the Arabic word tahra which is derived from tahara) but we found that it is doesn’t comprise the  meaning that we want to explain the better state for the girl without circumcision. One of the audience suggested the Arabic name "salma" which means complete/safe in English, but I noted that a society is carrying the word as a name which would create a confusion between the word and the said society's name and I suggested the word or the term "Saleema which means whole, healthy in body and mind, unharmed as created by God", which all the experts confirmed as the (magical) word for bringing about the change for it carries the comprehensive meaning and describes the uncircumcised girl.
After agreeing on the term, the most prominent question in that consultative meeting was: What are the means of communication that we want Saleema to achieve and that through which we can create new voices to increase a constant contact for questioning the society in a new language, besides Saleema logo shall be in eye-catching colors acceptable to all the public in all parts of Sudan, moreover, it was necessary to draw the attention for not mixing Saleema messages with the circumcision messages and their negative impacts and should be indirect to incite pondering, inquisition and question marks to create more contact with the community.
Saleema colors are drawn from a child protection campaign with the colors of observe, listened and talk. Since a shift in shift in the directions of the dialogue with the community is a necessity, so the cheerful, exhilarating, lovely colors likeable to all the Sudanese people have been used in Saleema movement under the slogan: "Every Girl is Born Saleema, Let Every Girl Grow Saleema" in a social movement to which everyone belongs without distinction or bias for living the content is the fundamental message of Saleema, besides using Saleem tools is a signal to the community in pictures and shapes that carry Saleema logo to raise questions around Saleema and create a dialogue for leaving the girl Saleema and if there is no dialogue, there will be no change to make collective decisions so our daughters will remain Saleema and work to maintain the absolute value that says: "Every Girl is Born Saleema, Let Every Girl Grow Saleema".

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saleema’s Henna

Saleema’s Henna: A new way to celebrate our agreement that every girl born Saleema shall grow Saleema! 

A long queue of women from different backgrounds in the region waited patiently with tickled faces to get their hand painted with Saleema’s new style of henna.  They may have diverse views and beliefs on life, but they are united to vigorously preserve every girl to be Saleema. The Saleema Initiative engages the community in every detail of their daily life and embraces the colorful Sudanese tobe as the National Saleema dress. Indeed, the Saleema Regional Forum in Khartoum was a special gathering where all women celebrated with their henna and tobe and sang loudly in one voice, “Every Girl is Born Saleema, Let Every Girl Grow Saleema”.

Having henna is a normal practice for married woman and although less common, unmarried women may do it on special occasions. As the queue grew to have the Saleema henna design applied, I became impressed with the pleasant contentment that the women shared and my inquisitiveness encouraged me to approach one of them. I came close to Hanaa Mohammed from Halfa in northern Sudan and asked why she was making henna.  She laughed and said “I’m not married and I never did henna before, but I was inspired by the collective choice of the women to have Saleema’s Henna design applied”.

Hanaa is a Saleema Initiative supporter in her state where the FGM/C rate is very high and community continues to cut their girls especially those who live in isolated villages.  Hanaa said “I’m happy to see women come together on this day and I hope that they reach out to every community in Sudan.” She said it was a “marvelous and magnificent personal achievement when I persuaded my dad to listen to my advice. In my culture, the words of young people and women are less heard in the community.” She was challenged by many factors, but never gave up and now she is convinced that the Saleema movement will succeed.
Now Saleema Henna has created a sense of belonging among community’s members. As we chatted about the role of the Saleema supporter, Hanaa pauses to take a photo of her Saleema Henna so she could share it with her sisters in Halfa. She hopes that the photo will further motivate them to speak about Saleema in the village and wherever they go. Hanaa says “Saleema Style Henna is from the community and it easy to follow the tradition of henna. You see henna on the women’s hands in the public transport, in the house and at family gatherings. You will see it everywhere. Finally, with henna on her hands she raises her hands high and proudly affirms “All my sisters are Saleema!”

Eman Eltigani
The Saleema Initiative promotes positive values associated with protecting girls and women in their natural God-given forms. Saleema is an Arabic word that means whole, healthy in body and mind, unharmed, intact, pristine, in a God-given condition and perfect. The first key objective of the initiative is to model and popularize use of the world “Saleema” itself as a positive terminology for describing uncut girls and women. Using the word Saleema is an expression of accepting the shift in the social norm. The Saleema Initiative marks also the shift from a perspective of change as an individual process largely motivated by developments in knowledge/attitudes to an understanding of change as collective undertaking that requires structured opportunities for dialogue and discussion.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Saleema goes on Radio

Saleema goes on Radio

“The Saleema Radio Drama might be a good way to give people the strength to fight together for the prosperity of our girls,” said Fadwa, one of the participants of the Saleema Radio Drama Workshop organized by the National Council for Child Welfare in Khartoum on 21 and 22 July 2014.

The workshop was called to engage youth and partners in developing a radio drama based on the Saleema Initiative’s values and ground message: ‘every girl is born saleema, let every girl grow saleema’.

During the workshop participants were engaged in writing the plot of the drama. As one of the participants, Mohammed, admitted, “writing the episodes was very challenging” however, “we did our best because we believe Saleema is needed in our society”.

It is worth mentioning the participants’ enriching contribution to the workshop’s objectives through sharing personal experiences or their families’ stories related to FGM/C abandonment. As one of the youth participants – Sahar - said “People’s desire to share, reveals their strong will for change”.

The end of the Radio Drama Workshop was met with excitement, as it indicates that we are one step forward to have Saleema Radio Drama on air!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Saleema Initiative at the Girl Summit

July 21st, London - Represented by Mrs. Amal Mahmud, the National Council for Child Welfare’s Secretary General and Dr. Samira A Ahmed from UNICEF Sudan, the Saleema Initiative is in London to attend the Girl Summit. The international Summit hosted by the Department of International Development of the United Kingdom and UNICEF is calling for building a world where FGM/C and child marriage are no longer practiced.

On the eve of the Summit, around six hundred people representing invited countries, civic society, youth and media have gathered in the inaugural reception. The reception was addressed by Mrs. Tereza May, representing the British Minister of Interior, who have mentioned the determination of young people to take action for enabling girls to fulfill their potential free from violence and discrimination. Mrs. May also stressed the Girls Summit’s role in making a change for girls and women as major driver for developing healthy, happy and prosperous societies.

Mr. Tony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director, addressed the reception by focusing on two words, urgency and energy. He stated that while FGM/C and Child Marriage have long terms effects all around the world, this makes it very urgent for girls facing either of them. Despite UNICEF provides numbers that show progress, population growth is outpacing progress and there is need to dedicate more energy to address these issues because "there is no time to lose", said Mr. Lake.

"The Summit is an excellent opportunity for advocacy and sharing of experiences,” said Mrs. Amal Mahmud, NCCW Secretary General. The Saleema initiative will be part of the Summit’s deliberations and will find a conducive environment for promoting tools and strategic actions to be taken thereafter.

UNICEF estimates that in 2012, approximately 70 million young women aged 20 to 24 (or around 1 in 3) were married before the age of 18.  More than 125 million girls and women alive today have suffered some form of FGM in the 29 countries where the practice is concentrated. The Girl Summit is a unique opportunity to strengthen efforts to promote rights of girls and women.

Dr. Samira A Ahmed from the Girls Summit in London