2 February, 2016

DAKAR — Senegal, like many other countries around the world, will be celebrating the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on Saturday, February 6. In partnership with the department of the Minister of Women, Family and Children; the National Committee for the Abandonment of Female Genital Cutting (FGC); the joint UNFPA-UNICEF and Tostan program has organized a social mobilization event in Keur Simbara, in the region of Thiès. Participation at the event will include members of Bambara, Mandinka, Pulaar, Soninké, and Diola communities. 

The community of Keur Simbara is a pioneer in the movement to abandon FGC in Senegal. Well known for the work of the community’s Imam, Demba Diarwa, who traveled to 347 villages to raise awareness about the issue. 

On the day of Zero Tolerance in 2003, Stelle Obasanjo, First Lady of Nigeria and spokesman for the campaign against female genital mutilation, made the official statement on “zero tolerance to FGM” at a conference organized by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children in Africa.

This day is an opportunity for communities to share their experiences and highlight progress, as well as discuss challenges in the national movement for the abandonment of female genital cutting in Senegal. The morning session, to be held at the Tostan Training Center in Thiès, will include a discussion panel with some of Senegal’s leaders in the movement to abandon FGC, before moving to Keur Simbara in the afternoon for social mobilization activities. The theme for 2016’s event is “Mobilizing together to contribute to the realization of Global Goals goals through the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030.”

FGC is a violation of the basic human rights of women and girls and endangers their health and welfare; sometimes even causing death. The practice of FGC affects nearly 140 million girls and women worldwide and more than 3 million girls are exposed to it every year.

In Senegal, according to the Demographic and Health Survey (EDS-MICS) 2014, the prevalence of circumcision is 25% among women aged 15-49 years with a great disparity in the southern regions, South East (69%) and the North (30%) West (17%) and Central (6%). 

Senegal hopes, through the national action plan, to accelerate the abandonment of FGC to arrive at a total abandonment of the practice in 2017.