Tostan Senegal’s ‘bold’ moves to end female circumcision

Tostan Senegal’s ‘bold’ moves to end female circumcision

Today is the International Day for the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC). The struggle continues for governments and NGOs across West Africa who are still hoping that one day there will be light at the end of the tunnel for this modern form of brutality towards women.

In Senegal, Tostan International, an NGO leading the frontline for the country’s fight against excision, has been pushing for the total abandonment of the practice.

The NGO says today it has identified regions with a higher prevalence of FGC in Senegal, where it says there is a need for expanded efforts. These regions include the Kolda (94% prevalence), Sedhiou (86.3% prevalence) and Fouta (87.2% prevalence).

Tostan Senegal spokesperson Amy Fairbairn says in order for Senegal to work towards a countrywide public declaration for the abandonment of FGC, 340 new communities will need to implement Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP).

Fairbairn says Tostan’s award-winning CEP has seen 427 communities in Ziguinchor, southern Senegal, abandon the practice on 20 January 2013 through the country’s first regional public declaration.

She explains: “CEP is a three-year, non-formal education program based on human rights. We facilitate discussions and provide trainings that empower people to lead development projects and social change within their own communities.”

Apart from its human rights-based approach, CEP is:

•          Holistic

•          Offered in in 20 local languages

•          Rooted in local culture and traditions

•          Respectful

•          Participatory (learner-centered, encourages dialogue)

•          Balanced in theory and experience (regularly seeking input from researchers and collaboration with academic institutions, and from local leaders)

•          Continuously evolving (incorporating community and staff feedback in order to constantly improve and adapt the program)

•          Designed with sustainability in mind

Tostan says the CEP has been identified as the preferred approach for the abandonment of female genital cutting according to the Government of Senegal’s Action Plan for Total Abandonment of FGC by 2015.

Tostan says since 1991 its three-year human rights-based program has been implemented in 2 451 communities in Senegal.  In 1997, the first public declaration for the abandonment of FGC took place in Malicounda Bambara, a village in western Senegal.

Since then, over 5 500 communities in Senegal – through direct participation in the Tostan program and through organised diffusion and social mobilisation activities –  have publicly declared their abandonment of the practice.

*Photo by Margouillat Travel Group. A view of Fouta-Toro, along Senegal River, one of the regions with a higher prevalence of excision.

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