On February 6, 2014, the UN recognized International Day for the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC), Tostan joined the Direction of the Family in Senegal and other partners, to celebrate the growing movement to end the practice of FGC in Senegal. The theme of the day was synergy between groups – the Government, international community, and civil society – all working towards the end of the practice in the country. With approximately 300 people in attendance, the attendees and speakers reflected the range of partners involved.
The highlight of the morning was a parade of children who marched towards the local youth center where the event was being held in Guediawaye, a suburb just outside of Dakar. They sported matching t-shirts and hats and carried placards calling for an end to violence against women, child/forced marriage, and especially FGC.
Among one of the honored speakers was Mame Fily, a young girl selected to represent the group of young marchers. She presented a memorandum, declaring the abandonment of FGC and the protection of human rights for all people, especially girls and women. The rights she cited are at the core of Tostan’s human rights-based education program, such as the rights to be protected from all forms of violence and all forms of discrimination. As part of her memorandum, she talked about the need for organized diffusion, Tostan’s coordinated approach to information-sharing, so that abandonment is not isolated to individuals or families but rather traverses across social networks to affect lasting and meaningful change.
In addition to Mame Fily’s youth memorandum, there were also speakers from the community and the Government. Aminata Sy, a woman who was cut as a child, explained that her decision to publically abandon FGC alongside other community members, as well as with support from the Ministry of Women, Family and Children, has helped her to protect her daughters from any social consequences that may come from abandoning a long-standing practice alone.
Aminata Diallo, Representative in the National Assembly, projected a positive message too and she said that it is important to involve religious leaders and other partners in ending this harmful practice. “We have hope that by 2015, we’ll be close to our goal [of total abandonment of FGC in Senegal]. We’ve come a long way…We aren’t against customs and traditions, only harmful practices.”