Kédougou, May 26, 2024On Sunday, twenty-seven communities in the Kédougou region (Southeast Senegal) organised a public declaration to promote human rights and share their vision of community wellbeing. On this occasion, they publicly declare their abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) and child marriage. This memorable gathering was attended by more than 500 individuals from Dakatéli and Kévoye.

This is the fourth public declaration in the Kédougou region, following those in Salémata, Kédougou, and Ethiolo. For the declaring communities, this event represents a clear commitment to creating a conducive environment for the wellbeing of all community members.

“We have realized that FGC and child marriage are harmful practices that can have severe consequences on the health of our wives and young girls. Today, we are happy to see our communities making progress in promoting human rights. ” said Tamba Diallo, the village chief of Dakatéli.

This public declaration is a moment of celebration during which the communities will come together to mark the journey they have taken to reach this important decision. They will be assisted by several communities that have previously organized similar declarations.

“We want to ensure that our children, especially girls, no longer suffer from practices that endanger their health; that they can grow up in better conditions and reach their full potential to contribute to the development of our communities,” added Dioncounda Djaby, president of the women’s group in Dakatéli.

The Success of a Community-Led Development Model

It is worth noting that the 27 communities that declared this Sunday did not directly participate in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP).Instead, the neighboring communities of Dar Salam and Ethiolo shared and discussed all the information they learned during the sessions—covering topics such as human rights and responsibilities, democratic organization, planning collective actions, hygiene, and health—with their relatives living in the 27 communities. Inter-village meetings, social mobilization activities, and radio awareness programs, with the participation of local authorities, religious leaders, health personnel, etc., played a crucial role in the collective decision of the communities to promote the health and well-being of all their members.

About Tostan

Based in Senegal, Tostan is a community development organization that has been empowering communities since 1991 to achieve their vision of well-being based on respect for their core values and human rights and responsibilities. Tostan partners with communities in five West African countries to implement an education program that enhances the capacities of all community members, particularly women and girls. Since its inception, Tostan’s basic education program has partnered with over 3,000 communities in Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Guinea, Mauritania, Somalia, and Djibouti, improving the well-being of nearly 6 million people. For further information, please visit   www.tostan.org

About the CEP

Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) is a three-year, human rights-based program designed to empower communities to realize their vision of well-being. This program is a model of non-formal education inspired by African culture and conducted in national languages. It encourages communities to create new social dynamics, enhancing the participation of women and girls in decision-making within families and communities. This leads to improvements in health, education, economic conditions, and the environment. Through an “organized diffusion” strategy, class participants share their knowledge with “adopted” individuals in their surroundings, while community radio programs amplify the dissemination of new information. Concurrently, Community Management Committees (CMCs) facilitate the sharing of discussions, achievements, and experiences from the class participants with the community and other interconnected communities. Thus, the decisions made by the communities for their well-being are collective and sustainable. To read more about the CEP