Navigating power dynamics: An anthropological perspective on employees working with Female Genital Cutting in the Netherlands
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Worldwide 300 million girls and women experience the effects of Female Genital Cutting (FGC), and more than four million girls are at risk of being circumcised every year (Amref Flying Doctors n.d). The practice of FGC varies in different countries, regions, communities, cultures, religions, as well as in the reason why FGC is practiced. Because of all these varieties in forms of FGC, Walley (1997, 429) argues that lumping different types of FGC into one phrase is inaccurate. Different meanings of FGC exposes the entanglement in different notions of cultures, human rights, the existing discourse of the idea what is right or wrong, forms of opposition, and the different power relations. Employees working on FGC related programs, and the organizations they work for, hold on to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is mainly based on health concerns and ending FGC. While employees work towards ending FGC, they also find it important to be culturally sensitive, and understand FGC from within the particular cultural context. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how employees working on FGC related projects, are constantly navigating power dynamics. These power dynamics refer to tensions in relation to FGC, that have to do with traditions, customs, knowledge, behavior, norms and values. These tensions make that employees struggle in living up to their organizations norms and values, make that employees subconsciously participate in a world in which stigmatization continues, and that these power dynamics affect employees' own agency. Therefore, this thesis shows that employees are constantly navigating power dynamics while working on FGC related programs through various forms of tension.