“In the coming years … [we will have to ensure] that cross-border programs emerge to accelerate the abandonment of FGC [in] Africa.” She added that “the UN system, through UNICEF and UNFPA, have long supported Senegal to reach a consensus among stakeholders around a national action plan. We also look forward to their continued support in the implementation of cross-border programs to guarantee border security when it comes to violations of girls’ rights.” These words from Marie Auguste Sall, speaking on behalf of the National coordination of Tostan Senegal—rang true as Senegalese and Mauritanian communities push to find cross-border solutions to abandoning the practice, which is regarded as a violation of the rights of girls and women.
Approximately two weeks ago, on August 27, 2014, in the small town of Dial Soubalo in the Matam region of northern Senegal, participants shared their experiences of abandonment, as well as ways to harmonize the FGC laws put in place in both Senegal and Mauritania. The Governor of the region, Cheikh Kane Niane, accompanied by local Senegalese authorities, welcomed their Mauritanian counterparts, led by the mayor of Diowouand the Deputy Mayor of Kahédi.
Mr. Gallo Kebe, the coordinator of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Program on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Senegal assured that both Mauritania among other countries were still expected to accelerate change to abandon FGC. The joint program has long supported both countries to reach a consensus among stakeholders around a national action plan. They have also supported the implementation of cross-border programs to guarantee border security when it comes to violations of girls’ rights.”
After that, the Governor of the region of Matam talked at length about the necessity for human rights-based development: “There can be no social or economic development without respect for human rights.” He also reaffirmed the political will of the Government of Senegal to see all its communities completely abandon the practice of FGC and child/forced marriage by 2017. Finally, the Governor addressed the two communities in these terms: “I call on all Senegalese communities, but also to our Mauritanian brothers, to participate in this effort to end FGC for the wellbeing of children and women.” To this end, both countries will need to harmonize their laws and policies related to well-being, while respecting human rights at the border.
Story by Malick Gueye, Communications Manager, Tostan Senegal