This week in the region of Brakna, southern Mauritania, former and current participants of Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) met in two separate intervillage meetings to exchange ideas and discuss their collective efforts towards the promotion of human rights and the abandonment of the harmful practices of female genital cutting (FGC) and child/forced marriage.

The first intervillage meeting, which took place on July 7 in Aleg, brought together 60 communities. Half of these communities are approaching the end of their participation in our three-year program, the CEP, and the other 30 completed the program in 2010. Together, they reflected on how to promote and accelerate the movement for the abandonment of FGC – a movement that has been gaining momentum in the region since 2007 when Tostan Mauritania first began implementing its activities. Community members identified factors that continue to hinder abandonment and discussed the best solutions to overcome these obstacles.

The following day in Boghé, a town in the same region, a second intervillage meeting took place. This meeting provided an occasion for representatives of over 100 communities, coming from all five districts of Brakna region, to meet, share knowledge and ideas, and work together for human rights. These communities had organized the meeting in order to prepare for a public declaration expected to take place in the month of September, in which these communities confirmed that they will declare their decision to abandon the harmful practices of FGC and child/forced marriage.

Tostan Mauritania’s efforts received publicity this week through an interview on Radio France International’s (RFI) Revue de Presse Africaine (African Press Review), which presents daily news from the continent. During the interview, Mohamed Ould Khattat, Editor-in-Chief of the Mauritanian daily newspaper Nouckachott Info, spoke to RFI about Tostan’s work with communities in the south of Mauritania since 2007. He emphasised how Tostan’s work is accelerating the abandonment of FGC and made reference to the public declaration planned to take place later this year. He also commented on the wider impacts of the Tostan program,, praising the holistic changes seen in communities empowered through training and nonformal education and how the program works in collaboration with local leaders. 

Listen to the interview (in French) beginning at 00:24:00.