Bala, Senegal – Following their participation in the Tostan Community Empowerment Program (CEP), 95 communities came together on June 14, 2009 to publicly declare their decision to abandon female genital cutting (FGC) and child/forced marriage. This declaration, primarily involving the Pulaar and Soninké ethnic groups is particularly historic as in the past these communities have been sensitive to programs that question traditional practices.
Banners waved in celebration as the declaration commenced. They expressed sentiments of gratitude and collective engagement, stating, “The communities of Soninké and Pulaar warmly thank the government of Senegal, Tostan, Sigrid Rausing [Trust], UNICEF and UNFPA” and “The communities of Bundou warmly thank the European commission for its support.”
“Our historic decision aims to promote human rights in Senegal, in Africa and all over the world,” Assistant President Awaly Ndiaye said proudly, who read the declaration statement. He thanked the initiatives established by the joint efforts of Tostan and the government of Senegal. The Tostan basic education program, backed by funding from the Sigrid Rausing Trust, helped empower these 95 communities to lead their own development and collectively pledge to protect the rights and health of their women and girls.
Abou Bathily, the village chief of Bala, addressed the communities’ initial perception that FGC was a practice supported by Islam. “False,” he declared. Binta Tambédou, CEP participant and member of a local Community Management Committee (CMC) added, “It may have been a practice justified at the time of the prophet Ibrahim, but now it is we, the women, who suffer the expenses of such practices.”
In addition, Tostan Senegal’s National Coordinator, Mr. Khalidou Sy, announced the creation of a Child Protection Committee to further sustain the social mobilization activities that led up to the declaration . He also discussed the importance of including the cutter (circumciser) in empowerment programs. If this is not done, he said, they are left with no other choice but to continue cutting, which would become their only source of income.
To date, 3,792 communities in Senegal have publically declared their abandonment of harmful traditional practices, a movement sparked by the declaration in Malicounda Bambara in 1997.
To read more about the declaration in Bala, please click on the following link:
Article from Agence de Presse Senegalaise:
“Bala: les représentants de 95 villages Pulaar et Soninké font une déclaration d’abandon de l’excision   “
“Bala : les femmes s’engagement à faire une déclaration d’abandon de l’excision “
For more information about the practice of FGC, please visit Tostan’s FGC resource page .
To learn more about the theory behind organized diffusion, please click here to read Gerry Mackie’s article entitled “Female Genital Cutting: The Beginning of the End.”