Changing Minds

Creating New Rituals to Replace Harmful Practices

Harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), are complex problems that are often tied to deep-rooted cultural and religious beliefs. As a result, combatting FGM requires a complex and multi-leveled process. In Guinea-Bissau, Plan International partnered with local NGOs and the European Commission to facilitate discussions and educational sessions about the dangers of FGM with various members of the community involved or impacted by FGM. These members include the women and girls at risk or victims of FGM, the local “cutter”, religious leaders, the village chief or mayor as well as medical professionals. This process of raising awareness has resulted in using public declarations to abandon the practice.

(Our Salary in the Bank) Tactic, Ensure that private-school teachers obtain their rights - part of "Stand Up with the Teacher" campaign

In order to ensure the rights of private-school teachers in terms of receiving the minimum wage requirement and summer months salaries, “Stand Up with the Teacher” campaign was established in 2015 with the support of the National Committee for Pay Equity (NCPE) and organized by the Ahl Foundation. The campaign has achieved several successes until 2017 when they lunched the #our_salary_in_the_bank hashtag which began as an online campaign on the 25th of September 2017. It ended with a sit-in of private-school female teachers in front of the Ministry of Education and resulted in transferring teachers’ salaries to bank accounts or electronic wallets is compulsory for all private schools.

Using a Restaurant to Smash HIV Stigmas

In November 2017, June’s HIV+ Eatery opened for three nights to break the stigma surrounding people living with HIV in Toronto. Operating under the slogan “Break Bread, Smash Stigma”, all of the food served at June’s was prepared by HIV positive individuals-turned chefs. All of the seats at the pop-up restaurant sold out within two weeks, and the event garnered widespread worldwide media attention.

Creating a fake wedding company and exhibit booth to highlight issues surrounding celebratory gunfire

To combat the use of gun shows at weddings, the Permanent Peace Movement created a fake service company called "Eleguns" to be exhibited at the largest wedding fair in Beirut, Lebanon. The purpose of Eleguns is to create awareness on the lethality and illegality of having such celebratory gunfire.

Establishing a new custom to protect girls and transform societal norms

Modifying societal beliefs and norms are most successful when the change comes from within the community. Such a transformation is now happening after the birth of every girl in the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India. Villagers plant one hundred eleven (111) trees to honor the birth of the girl. The new custom aims to counteract the prevalence of female feticide by encouraging parents and villagers to plant trees in honor of a female child. It requires that parents promise to not marry their female child before adulthood, creates a community-funded trust fund for the child, and provides the community with the necessary resources to develop. Villagers have planted over 286,000 trees which are now providing not only a new tradition but environmental sustainability. In addition, villagers have planted over 2.5 million aloe vera plants which protect the trees and provide a source of livelihood. As a result, the ratio of girls to boys in Piplantri village has increased and girls are being given an equivalent position to boys in the village. The Piplantri 111 Trees has now spread to surrounding villages, broadening the respect and protection for girls.

Reducing stigma and stereotypes by “reading” people, rather than books

Human rights violations can easily stem from a lack of interaction and accustom among diverse social groups. By simulating a library checkout of people instead of books, the human library helps foster respectful dialogue between distinctive individuals and their peers, intending to promote understanding on various lifestyles within any given community. Since the first event in 2000, the human library movement has grown immensely, now having taken place in an estimated 70 nations across every region of the world.

Using videos to raise awareness of women’s and family protection law against domestic violence

Enough Violence and Exploitation is a Lebanese organization that fights all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse against women and children. The organization focuses on issues such as domestic violence, human trafficking (women), protecting the children, and giving psychological, social, and legal support to women who are victims of violence.

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