On July 17, 2014, 20 villages, including 10 that participated directly in the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) and 10 adopted villages, gathered for an intergenerational meeting in the village of Soumboundou in the Sédhiou region in southern Senegal. Intergenerational meetings provide the opportunity for adult and youth CEP participants to meet each other, exchange ideas and discuss certain issues.
The event was held during the month of Ramadan when activities are less frequent because of lack of energy due to fasting. However, this meeting was very animated with the participation of over 100 people; on the day there were speeches, testimonies, and various other activities.
One of the first animations on the day included a skit on the negative effects of female genital cutting (FGC), which was presented by youth and adults in the village of Soumboundou, to promote the abandonment of the practice. This was followed by a working group session where the participants were given the opportunity to reflect on the theme of FGC and to share ideas and knowledge in order to strengthen their understanding of the practice.
In the testimonies provided by participants, we found that the activities were used to educate participants on the dangers of FGC and to increase their knowledge on the subject. Awa Sow said that the meeting helped her better understand the harmful consequences of FGC, which she can now list one by one, and she is grateful to Tostan for that.
The participating adolescents also showed strong support for the abandonment FGC, child/forced marriage, and the promotion of girls’ education. Among the supporters is Diara Faty who said that girls are being cut without being informed beforehand. She cites education as a necessary solution and says that girls should now be given opportunities that their mothers did not have. She encouraged parents to allow their daughters to continue their education. Her words were met with applause and cheers from the crowd.
The day ended with words from Sankoung Sagne, the mayor of the municipality in the department of Oudoucar, Sédhiou, whose speech was also his first official appearance. He took the opportunity to show his commitment to promoting the abandonment of FGC. He said that at one point people were a bit confused because they believed Tostan was the law or the government. However, he emphasized that Tostan only seeks to inform communities about the law and lets communities decide for themselves. He ended with a praise of Tostan’s work and hoped that the community of Oudoucar would continue in the path of development.