Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM

by The Grandmother Project, Inc
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Empowering Grandmother leaders to stop FGM
Women work together to stop FGM & child marriage
Women work together to stop FGM & child marriage

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice that affects young girls and women in many communities throughout Senegal and is prominent in southern Senegal, where Vélingara is located.  Abandonment of a harmful tradition such as FGM is not easy and must use an integrative approach that involves the entire community. 

 Over the last four months, several activities related to our project combatting FGM have taken place.  One Women and Girls (WAG) forum took place, during which all three generations of women (grandmothers, mothers and adolescent girls) discussed the most pressing issues facing girls in Vélingara.  During the forum all three generations discussed the issues at hand and worked together to identify possible solutions.  Grandmother Leader training sessions also took place in four different sites, involving a total of 42 grandmothers.  Grandmother Leaders are essential to the abandonment of harmful traditional practices – especially in the case of FGM. 

 For sustained change to take place, however, the entire community needs to be involved.  Intergenerational Forums are a way for members of the community from both genders and all age groups to come together and discuss the most pressing issues affecting their community.  During the past four months, 4 Intergenerational Forums were attended by grandmothers, mothers, fathers, adolescent boys and girls, various community leaders and the local teachers.  These forums foster discussion and consensus building in the community and are necessary for any positive change to happen.  As teacher Tidian Sow so eloquently noted:

 “Every development activity should be supported with understanding and ongoing communication. This communication should form the foundation of any initiative, without which a project will end up with heated dispute and will result more in misunderstanding and division than success.”

Women of all ages must join forces to stop FGM
Women of all ages must join forces to stop FGM
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Discussion among grandmothers can lead to change
Discussion among grandmothers can lead to change

Grandmother Leaders are instrumental in mobilizing their communities to discuss the harmful effects of FGM and to come to a consensus on its abandonment.  Whilst many grandmothers previously spoke amongst themselves about the harm of FGM, it is only now they have been able to use their voices to make a lasting change for girls.  GMP’s Grandmother Leadership training has given them the tools they need to feel confident in their leadership role and voicing their opinions in front of the whole community and with village chiefs, imams and other community leaders.

 

“Since the arrival of GMP, we have been leading discussions on female circumcision. Before, we knew the dangers but it was with the project that we had the confidence and the courage to speak about it publicly.”

Fatoumata Baldé

 

Many grandmothers previously had an awareness and understanding of the potential harmful effects of FGM, but didn’t know how to make a change.  Using participatory learning techniques and supporting the existing strengths of senior women Grandmother Leaders have been able to make a change in numerous communities across southern Senegal. 

 

“Long before the Grandmother Project’s intervention, I discussed with other grandmothers of the village about the harm of cutting because I was a midwife at the hospital and had noticed problems among circumcised women. But it was only with the arrival of Grandmother Project that people really became aware of these problems. While I discussed individually with the grandmothers, GMP involved everyone. We grandmothers have made a commitment to not circumcise our granddaughters. We met together with the village chief and the parents of children and talked about the negative consequences of excision. Together, we agreed to denounce anyone who continued to practice female circumcision in the village.”

Kadiatou Baldé, Grandmother Leader

 

With your continued help, GMP can train more Grandmother Leaders in new communities and ensure that girls will no longer have to deal with the harmful effects of FGM. 

Grandmother Leaders are instrumental to change
Grandmother Leaders are instrumental to change
Grandmother Leaders support girls' development
Grandmother Leaders support girls' development
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Grandmothers protect girls from harmful practices
Grandmothers protect girls from harmful practices

A rise in cases of FGM has recently been connected to the COVID pandemic.  According to a recent article in The Lancet, the “alarming signals of rising FGM cases are part of a broader context in which the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women's wellbeing.” 


While COVID may continue, attacks to girls’ human rights and well-being do not need to.  With the help of grandmothers, girls have tireless advocates for their health and well-being. A grandmother is a powerful voice that can change harmful traditions and practices, but she also needs support and guidance to fulfill her role.  

 

We continue to work with grandmothers to give them leadership skills so they are educated and empowered to make positive changes in their communities.  Your continued support ensures that more grandmothers can be trained and supported to make a change in the lives of women and girls. 

 

Grandmothers support girls' health and well-being
Grandmothers support girls' health and well-being
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Grandmothers protect girls from FGM
Grandmothers protect girls from FGM

The COVID pandemic has shed light on the dangers women and girls face all over the world; not only in terms of inequality (lack of access to education), but also with regards to violence against women and girls (FGM, child marriage).  UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) most recent projections proport that due to the disruption of FGM prevention programs in response to COVID-19, 2 million cases that could have been averted might occur over the next decade.

In Vélingara Grandmother Leaders work with parents and the whole community to educate them about the harmful effects of FGM.  Thanks to the Grandmother Leaders, hundreds of girls in Vélingara have been saved from the lasting effects of FGM. 

Grandmother Leaders are a sustainable way to stop FGM – even during COVID.  Once trained, they work tirelessly with parents and communities to educate them about the dangers of FGM and child marriage and promote girls staying in school so they can finish their secondary education. 

With your help Grandmother Project can train more grandmothers so that COVID won’t keep girls from being safe and achieving their dreams.

Grandmothers are key to stopping harmful practices
Grandmothers are key to stopping harmful practices
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WAG Forums help women to solve problems together
WAG Forums help women to solve problems together

Grandmother Project’s (GMP) intergenerational activities with mothers, grandmothers and girls have been proven to make a difference in the lives of girls – in both the current generation and for the generations to come.  Research on our program by the Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University found that GMP programs have contributed to significantly shifting deep-rooted social norms and practices related to girls’ education, child marriage, teen pregnancy and FGM. 

At GMP, we know that the most positive outcomes happen when all three generations of women are brought together to discuss and learn and are empowered to make a difference in their communities. Working together, these intergenerational groups of women are able to tackle the most hard-hitting issues facing girls today.  They know that together they are stronger.  Together they are changing the future for the girls of today and tomorrow.   

“As leaders, we should try to share information with other members of the community in order to get them to understand what we have discussed. We have to work hand in hand to help our children because they are the leaders of tomorrow in the village.”                                                       

- Foula Baldé mother

“These meetings are very useful for us because they allow us to realize the importance of strengthening solidarity between us to support young girls. Bringing mothers, young daughters and grandmothers together promotes collaboration between all of us.”                       

- Fanta, grandmother

“It has been a long time since we were all together to discuss these issues. We are here to listen to what the grandmothers have to say.”                               

- Diénabou, adolescent girl

Women and Girl (WAG) forums are a simple, yet effective way to ignite discussion, educate and empower all three generations of women.  These intergenerational leaders provide a sustainable force in the fight for girls’ rights and well-being.  Thanks to your generous donation, they continue to fight - even during COVID. 

 

GMP programs stop deep-rooted, harmful traditions
GMP programs stop deep-rooted, harmful traditions
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Organization Information

The Grandmother Project, Inc

Location: Chevy Chase, MD - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @thegm_project
Project Leader:
Judi Aubel
Chevy Chase, MD United States
$6,700 raised of $9,400 goal
 
81 donations
$2,700 to go
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