Ndimaagu, a Pulaar word meaning ‘dignity’, is the name of a new Tostan program being implemented in communities in Senegal, in partnership with PATH. Launched on April 1-2 in the Tambacounda region of Senegal, the project aims to prevent gender-based and domestic violence and will be integrated into our Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in 42 communities in the area of Goudiry and 13 communities in Mouderi.

In Senegal, domestic violence is still largely accepted. The latest DHS report on Senegal, published in 2012, found that 60 percent of women think it is justifiable for a man to physically assault his wife for at least one of the suggested reasons (burning food, arguing with him, going out without telling him, neglecting children, or refusing to have sexual relations with him).

In Tambacounda, the region in which this new project will first be introduced, almost half (46.5 percent) of the women interviewed believe that a man is justified in hitting his wife if she burns the meal she is preparing for him.

Our three-year Community Empowerment Program uses nonformal education to help participants build understanding of their human rights, including the right to freedom from all forms of violence. In addition to existing class sessions on human rights, democracy, and problem-solving, the Ndimaagu Project will incorporate an additional ten class sessions that focus on gender.

The project will also include trainings on violence prevention for local authorities and traditional and religious leaders, as well as will focus on forming partnerships between Community Management Committees (CMC), non-governmental organizations, governmental institutions, community leaders, and service providers responding to gender-based violence in Senegal.

At the project launch in Goudiry, a representative of the Government of Senegal, Prefect Adama Camara, said: “Gender-based violence is an issue on the government’s agenda, but the work of NGOs like Tostan can touch local populations. I invite all the village chiefs to work with Tostan facilitators in the field to bring about the change that they want to promote.”

Coumba Sira Diarra, President of the Women’s Association said: “This project focusing on gender-based violence is for us, women. We know that the role of women will change because of the equity in resources and decision-making it will bring.”

It is hoped that this project will contribute to a decline in prevalence of gender-based and domestic violence in the region and improve gender equity in access and control of resources as well as decision-making at the community level.

The Ndimaagu Project will initially be implemented in 55 communities in Senegal.