The Generation Dialogue Approach

Promoting social change in communities strongly committed to traditions and customary practices 

Dialoguing about women’s roles in Guinea

Many projects have used the Generation Dialogue to address FGM and other problematic beliefs and practices related to sexual and reproductive health, human rights and gender equality. The latest edition of manuals allows development practitioners to adapt it to their specific topics and their cultural and regional contexts.

What is the Generation Dialogue?

The Generation Dialogue is a participatory approach aimed at initiating a process of social change in communities with a strong commitment to traditions, belief systems and customary practices. The method was originally developed in 2001 in Guinea, West Africa as part of an effort to reduce the widespread practice of female genital cutting. It has subsequently been adapted to address other topics related to sexual and reproductive health, human rights and gender equality and has been implemented, with support from German Development Cooperation, in nine different countries. The project ‚Ending female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices’, implemented by GIZ on behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has supported the design and implementation of this approach since its conception.

How does it work?

The Generation Dialogue is built around a moderated, respect-based dialogue process across sexes and generations. It begins with community consultations open to all interested community members, followed by six weekly Dialogue Sessions, lasting half a day each. In these sessions participants share and discuss different views and perceptions about gender-linked life concepts and roles, about traditions and social norms, and about culturally-sensitive topics such as sexuality and gender relations. Through moderated interactive exercises, which proactively bring in and build on elements of local culture, the participants come to appreciate that openness and acceptance of others’ views are the basis for mutual understanding across ages and sexes.

Dialogue participants work together – within, and then across, their sex- and generation-specific groups – to identify traditional values that both generations hold dear and want to maintain, as well as practices with harmful effects which they agree should be modified or abandoned altogether. Over the course of the Dialogue process participants develop strategies to deal with perceived problems and present these publicly in order to involve more and more members of the community in discussion.

Can it be adapted to other cultures and contexts?

A Generation Dialogue session in Yemen

The Generation Dialogue has already been adapted to nine different countries and to topics such as female genital mutilation, HIV-related stigma and lack of reproductive health services and information for young people. It is currently being piloted as approach addressing unsafe childbearing practices and son preference in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Pakistani edition of the manuals includes drawings of the different exercises and Dialogue formats and can be found for downloading at the bottom of this page. Several programmes in other countries have expressed interest in adapting the approach to promote social change in communities with a strong commitment to their belief systems and customary practices. This is where the Generation Dialogue manuals come into play.

The manuals

To enable interested teams and organisations worldwide to adapt and implement the Generation Dialogue approach, the project ‚Ending female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices‘ has supported the production of

  • A guidance note for organisations interested in implementing Generation Dialogues
  • A manual for trainers of Generation Dialogue facilitators 
  • Manuals for Generation Dialogue facilitators (one version for women’s and one for men’s Dialogues)
  • A guidance note on the Monitoring and Evaluation of Generation Dialogues. 

At the bottom of this page, you can find these materials in the original version, addressing female genital mutilation, in both English and in French.

You can also download the new edition of the manuals, adapted for implementation in Pakistan and addressing unsafe childbearing practices and son preference, including drawings produced specifically for this edition.

In addition, the latest edition of the manuals is provided as Word files, allowing other projects and programmes to adapt them to the specific issues they are working on. All sections needing adaptation to different regional and cultural contexts, and to other topics, have been clearly marked.

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to know more about the method and possible support with its adaptation and implementation, contact the project ‚Ending female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices’ at

August 2016

Manuals addressing FGM (English & French)

Guidance Note for the M&E of Generation Dialogues (English)

Manuals addressing unsafe childbearing practices and son preference in Pakistan (English)

Manuals as WORD files for adaptation to other contexts (English)

BMZ glossary

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