Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $300,000)
Under this project the International Institute of Minnesota (IIM) will develop the New American Healthcare Initiative (NAHI) to help end the practice of FGM/C within the broader context of health and safety for girls and women. Somali and Oromo health educators will develop and provide eight-week curriculums for the Somali and Oromo communities in the Twin Cities Metro area in order to increase their knowledge and awareness of the severe health risks of FGM/C, the legal consequences of practicing FGM/C in the United States, and emboldening women to talk to providers about their health needs. Participants will reside in the seven-county Twin Cities Metro area, including the core cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and the suburban communities in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties. The NAHI curriculum will be provided through three workshop series during the 36- month project period: 1. IIMs Somali health educator will develop and facilitate 12 eight-week workshop cohorts for 15 Somali women. 180 Somali residents are expected to participate during the project period. Services will be provided at the IIM office in Saint Paul or in locations in the Twin Cities such as mosques, schools, or community centers. 2. IIM will contract with Rufo Jiru of Anole Sisters, an Oromo community organization in the Twin Cities, to serve as an Oromo health educator. She will develop and facilitate 3 eight-week workshop cohorts for 15 Oromo women. 45 Oromo residents are expected to participate during the project period. Services will be provided at the IIM office in Saint Paul or in locations in the Twin Cities such as mosques, schools, or community centers. 3. IIM will partner with African Immigrants Community Services (AICS) to conduct four community conversations for Somali men and women in Twin Cities Metro area mosques each year. 60 Somali youth and 100 Somali adults are expected to participate during the project period. IIMs womens health workshop format is unique because its model allows women to actively participate in their learning over eight weeks, leading to a deep understanding of the material and for women to develop comfort with each other and trust in the health educator who facilitates the conversation. This comfort leads to in-depth, candid discussions and allows women to speak in a safe space about a topic that is challenging and deeply personal. In additional to providing these direct services to the community, IIM will co-lead the renewed Minnesota FGC Prevention and Outreach Working Group to coordinate efforts among state and local agencies, organizations, and communities at risk to end the practice of FGM/C. The working group will coordinate a proactive statewide response to raise awareness of FGM/C risks, identify potential victims, and increase services for impacted women and girls. Through NAHI, IIM will create a safer environment for girls at risk of FGM/C and women who have experienced FGM/C by increasing their knowledge of the severe health risks of FGM/C, their awareness of the legal consequences of practicing FGC, and emboldening them to talk to providers about their health needs. The program will also effectuate broader change by training medical providers on the cultural background of FGM/C and the medical needs of women who have experienced FGM/C.