“As from today and witnessed by politicians, traditional and religious leaders, government officials and men, women and children, we twenty-eight communities of Maroodi Jeex do hereby declare unanimously the abandonment of all forms of female genital cutting (FGC).”
This was the declaration of twenty-eight communities in the Maroodi Jeex region of Somaliland, made on July 7, 2012. After two years of human rights based learning through Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) funded in Somaliland by UNICEF, they chose to publicly declare their abandonment of these practices.
These communities join the twenty communities that abandoned FGC in Somaliland in 2009.
Moderated by the Second Lady of Somaliland, the event was held in Hargeisa and was attended by a many of the city’s residents, including the Presidential Adviser on Women’s and Minority Affairs, religious and traditional leaders, senior officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs, as well as representatives from several women’s organizations.
The CEP participants, most of whom had never had the opportunity to attend formal school, thanked Tostan for the training on democracy, human rights, problem solving, and hygiene and health provided in national languages. In an interview with Somali BBC radio, one woman said, “the empowerment I received from Tostan will save my two younger daughters from being cut; their older sisters were not as fortunate.” The event was attended by more than 5,000 people and was broadcast on BBC radio and shown on local television.
Concluding the festivities, Tostan National Coordinator, Birima Fall, congratulated the declaring communities on their progress in achieving positive social norm change. He extended his thanks to the Government of Somaliland, UNICEF, local NGO partners, and members of the Tostan communities. He further said that Tostan Somalia would continue working with more communities in the coming phases of the CEP to work towards total abandonment of FGC in Somaliland.