The Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), in collaboration with Orchid Project, took the initiative to establish the Asia Network to End FGM/C. Only three years after they announced the initial plans, the network has now over 100 members across 13 countries in the Asia region.
The network's members — most of them activists, civil society organizations, survivors, researchers, medical professionals, journalists, and religious leaders— are committed to promoting the abandonment of all forms of FGM/C across the Asia region. After a five-month consultation, it was concluded that a more significant collective effort was needed despite many isolated efforts against FGM/C across Asia in past years. Given the region's scale and extent of FGM/C, small actions are not enough to cause significant impact. ARROW reached out to us with the request to facilitate the development of a Theory of Change (ToC) for the Asia Network as the next step in their journey.
Pathways of Change
The first thing we did was give a presentation during the Network’s yearly Regional Convening. That allowed us to set the context by providing general explanations about Theories of Change, their elements, and examples. We pointed out that ToCs can be flexible and don’t follow any particular formats. After that, we established a working group with members from the Asia network that could represent the different countries. We organized an array of workshops where we discussed the value of the regional Network and identified four main pathways of change we wanted to focus on. One of the most significant conclusions was that legal structures, education, advocacy, and research are crucial elements of the ToC. At the same time, we also emphasized the importance of developing a flexible tool, as the context in many Asian countries is different. In the final stage of the process, we got a designer to create a visualization of our work. To finalize, we summoned a workshop with the whole Network to present our conclusions and show our work.
Developing a ToC can be a complicated process, but it went very smoothly in this case. We are very proud of the result and delighted to be able to have contributed and supported the Asia Network. It was a genuinely collaborative effort that allowed us to identify the conditions that have to unfold for the long-term goal to be met. There is a clear need for more attention, prioritization, and adequate resourcing toward efforts to eradicate FGM/C across Asia. If we don’t end this practice on a global scale, we will not meet any SDG targets related to gender equality.