February 6, 2014 
Dakar, Senegal

Today, on the UN recognized International Day for the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) – 14 neighborhoods in the suburb of Yirimadio (pop. 60,000), Mali, are gathering at a community stadium to publicly declare their abandonment of the harmful traditional practices of FGC and child/forced marriage.   Speakers will include; the Chief of Yirimadio area, Mayor of Yirimadio, Leader of Financial and Technical Partners FGC sub-group,  the Minister for Promotion of Women, Family and Children and Tostan Founder, Molly Melching.

From 2009 to 2013, these 14 sectors in Yirimadio, an area on the outskirts of the Malian capital, Bamako, participated in Tostan’s human-rights based Community Empowerment Program, together with 24 communities in the rural area of Koulikoro.  This was the first time that international NGO Tostan had implemented its program in Mali, initially funded by USAID and then by a consortium of other funders after the coup d’état of March 2012. The communities completed the program in June 2013. 

The FGC rate in Bamako is 92.6 percent, higher than some rural areas, and Yirimadio also copes with other problems that peri-urban residents often face, including exposure to pollution, a higher cost of living, and strained social services.  Even though Yirimadio is within reach of a major urban center, they face many of the same challenges as their rural counterparts including limited access to running water, sanitation, and electricity. 

Today’s event is only the second public declaration of abandonment by Tostan partner communities in Mali, and the first declaration of Tostan partner communities in a urban setting. They will join a larger movement for the abandonment of FGC in Africa, with over 7,000 Tostan partner communities in eight countries having already publicly declared their abandonment.   

The 14 neighborhoods participating in today’s declaration are the same areas which saw a tenfold decline in child mortality in three years following the implementation of Tostan’s program coupled with a rapid health access system by the NGO Muso.

“Today is a significant day in Mali. We congratulate the communities gathered in Yirimadio who are abandoning female genital cutting and pursuing a future for their children where health and human rights are respected and protected. The abandonment movement is growing, and now is the time to propel it further through partnership between organizations working to end this practice and with more support for the communities who are bravely taking this step.”

Molly Melching, Founder and Executive Director, Tostan 


Note to Editors

Tostan’s mission is to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights. Tostan works in six West African and two East African countries and has been internationally recognized for its success in engaging communities to make significant change, including the empowerment of women and girls through leadership opportunities, the protection of children’s rights and promotion of education, the improvement of maternal and child health, and the abandonment of harmful social practices such as child/forced marriage and female genital cutting (FGC).  To find out more about Tostan, visit www.tostan.org

For further information, please contact:

Amy Fairbairn, Director of Communications, Tostan
Email: amyfairbairn@tostan.org
Telephone: +221 33 820 55 89 / +221 77 877 55 13