Senegal: Total End of Female Genital Cutting Now in Sight

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Government of Senegal launches major national action plan to seize on momentum created by local communities and the NGO Tostan to end the practice by 2015

Large public declarations like this one in Velingara, Senegal have been an essential element of the FGC abandonment movement in Senegal.

Through Tostan's respectful, cross-cutting model of engaging communities, over 4,200 communities in Senegal have publicly declared their abandonment of the practice since 1997.

Building on a massive grassroots movement for the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) which has seen thousands of communities in Senegal join its ranks in recent years, the Government of Senegal will announce on Friday, February 19 the launch of a comprehensive strategy for achieving its goal of nationwide abandonment of FGC by 2015.

The strategy, to be announced at an event attended by Senegalese Prime Minister Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye, is largely based on the human rights approach developed by Tostan, an NGO working in Senegal since 1991. Through Tostan's respectful, cross-cutting model of engaging communities, over 4,200 communities in Senegal have publicly declared their abandonment of the practice since 1997. A recent UNICEF study confirmed the long-term abandonment of FGC in communities that participated in the Tostan program.

The National Action Plan for FGC Abandonment 2010-2015 will focus on three key components of the Tostan strategy: implementing empowering education programs in national languages, engaging extended social networks through an "organized diffusion" model of communication, and supporting public declarations for the abandonment of FGC.

The Action Plan also stresses the importance of working with populations in the regions where FGC is most commonly practiced: Saint Louis, Matam, Kaolack, Tambacounda, Ziguinchor, and Kolda, regions which are among the poorest of Senegal.

The launch event will recognize the local community leaders who have led this movement from infancy to its current tipping point. Special recognition will be given to the first community to publicly declare abandonment of FGC in 1997, Malicounda Bambara. The Tostan organization and staff will also be recognized for their dedicated work on this and other development issues over the past 19 years. Khaldiou Sy, Director of Tostan Senegal, will speak at the event.

The launch event comes just days before a massive public declaration of all 256 communities of the Kedougou Region of Senegal, where, on Sunday, February 21, participating communities will declare an end to the practices of FGC and child/forced marriage on a regional level, marking one of the largest such events to-date. The event will be attended by the Minister of the Family and the Country Representative of UNICEF in Senegal.

About Tostan: Tostan, a US 501c3 organization that was founded in 1991, currently has over 1,000 full-time staff and community facilitators, and is working in over 800 communities in eight countries in Africa. Over 99% of Tostan’s staff is African. The organization’s US office is based in Washington, D.C. Tostan has been the recipient of several awards including the 2007 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the UNESCO King Sejong Prize for Literacy, and Sweden’s 2005 Anna Lindh Award for Human Rights. For more information, please visit http://www.tostan.org.

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Gannon Gillespie
Tostan
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