DAKAR, Senegal, 27 January 2010 – Senegalese singer from Thionck Essyl (Bignona, Sénégal), Sister Fa, has joined efforts with Tostan to promote the health and dignity of women in celebration of the International Day for the Abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) on February 6. Sister Fa recently held two concerts, one in Ziguinchor on February 2 and another in Thionck-Essyl on February 6, which included screenings of Walking the Path of Unity, the 2008 awareness-raising film.

Committed to the promotion of human rights and to the abandonment of FGC, Sister Fa began her second tour in Senegal as part of the project, “Education without FGC.” The singer met with communities in Casamance to support their community-made film, Walking the Path of Unity.

Directed by the village of Diégoune and produced in collaboration with Tostan and the Belgian NGO Respect, the film, which was made in the national language of Diola, presents stories of the village’s key players in the movement to abandon FGC. The community members tell of their decision to protect the rights of women and children and explain their reasoning for abandoning FGC. To watch Walking the Path of Unity on YouTube, please click here.

Since 2009, the film has been shown in villages across Casamance in partnership with Cinéma Numérique Ambulant. Screenings are followed by a discussion led by a Tostan facilitator and one of the community members who stars in the film.

Shared fundamental values, such as respect for community and the importance of communication, are at the heart of the partnership between Sister Fa and Tostan. “I wanted to invest myself once again in the human rights of my region of origin. What drew me to Tostan was their way of not judging communities, but of enhancing and helping them think for themselves about education, health, the place of women…” Sister Fa explains. “It is the community at a grass-roots level that decides to abandon FGC.”

Tostan has been involved in community development in the area of Casamance for ten years and, in the Bignona region, has facilitated five public declarations announcing the abandonment of FGC. Walking the Path of Unity has been screened in communities where Tostan has worked in the past and communities in which Tostan is currently implementing its program.

Abdoulaye Diao, Tostan’s Regional Coordinator in Ziguinchor, welcomed Sister Fa’s concert with enthusiasm. “We are pleased that leaders, and above all, women, who share our vision of development, are joining in our efforts to reinforce the human rights movement in Casamance.”

Events commemorating February 6th are not limited to Casamance. Sister Fa and her band will also perform two concerts in Dakar (January 31 and February 12) as part of the project “Education without FGC.” Walking the Path of Unity will be broadcast on TV5 Monde Afrique on February 7 and 13.