On 29 November 2018, representatives of 141 communities gathered in Koulikoro, Mali, to publicly declare their decision to abandon the age-old practices of female genital cutting (FGC) and child marriage. The ceremony was presided over by the Minister for the Promotion of Women, Children and the Family, Dr. DIAKITE Aïssata TRAORE.

141 communities gathered to declare abandonment of FGC and child marriage.

141 communities gathered to declare abandonment of FGC and child marriage.

Tostan in Mali

Present in Mali since 2009, Tostan has implemented the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in 78 communities in Koulikoro and Yirimadio, a suburb of Bamako, in partnership with USAID Mali and NORAD as well as the Government and local NGOs. 

The programme has had significant results in accelerating the community-led movement to abandon FGC and child marriage in Mali. Following the implementation of the CEP in two programmatic phases from 2009 to 2016, 117 Tostan partner communities publicly declared their abandonment of harmful traditional practices such as FGC and child marriage.

As part of its partnership with UNFPA, the Government of Mali and NGO partners, Tostan launched in October 2017 a project entitled “Accelerating the abandonment of FGC and other harmful practices in Koulikoro” in three circles (the circle being a territorial community comprising several communes) in the Koulikoro region, all within the CEP. This project is being implemented directly in 20 villages in the circles of Koulikoro, Banamba and Dioila and has led to social mobilization activities on gender-based violence (GBV), FGC, child marriage and other harmful practices in 150 communities over a two-year period.

A women speaks to the crowd about human rights

A women speaks to the crowd about human rights

141 communities in the Koulikoro region join the movement for change

The Koulikoro region is the second administrative region of Mali with an estimated population of 2,422,108 people. In rural areas, the population is mainly from Bambara, Malinke and Soninke ethnic groups.

According to the 2006 demographic and health survey, 97.4% of the population practiced FGC, which is above the national prevalence rate of 91%. The prevalence rate of FGC is particularly high among the main communities in the Koulikoro region: 98% among the Bambara, 98% among the Malinke and 97% among the Soninke. According to the demographic survey, prevalence rates of this harmful practice also vary according to the religion practiced: 86% among Muslims and 68% among Christians.

Despite the widespread practice of FGC in this region, Tostan’s work with 18 partner communities and social mobilization efforts in the region have helped to spark real social transformation. Several hundred participants and representatives joined the declaration, during which the members of these 141 communities publicly committed themselves to the respect of human dignity. This represents a fundamental step for the sustainable development and well-being of their community. It is with great pride that Tostan accompanies this growing human rights movement in West Africa.

Local authorities attend the declaration

Local authorities attending the declaration

Moussa Diallo, National Coordinator of Tostan Mali, spoke on the radio of the United Nations Mission in Mali about this important event. Listen to his speech in French on Soundcloud.