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.
UNICEF and UNFPA have recently warned that, due to COVID, at least 2 million girls are at risk of FGM. This risk is due to COVID restrictions and the associated lack of movement, inhibiting prevention practices related to not only FGM, but also other gender based violence practices, such as child marriage. Increased risk of FGM has been identified as an issue all over Africa and UNICEF and UNFPA are asking organizations all over the continent to assess the current situation and need for intervention.
In Senegal, children were out of school for 8 months due to COVID-19-induced closures. During that entire period, grandmothers continued to bring neighborhood girls together for evening story-telling sessions and GMP intensified under-the-tree participatory learning sessions with girls and grandmothers to discuss COVID prevention measures and the risks of teen pregnancy, FGM and child marriage.Small group Women and Girls forums have continued in many communities and Grandmother Leaders have been active throughout the communities with whom we collaborate. In fact, throughout the pandemic, Grandmother Leaders have been responsible for stopping and preventing many cases of gender based violence, such as child marriage and FGM.
Girls alone cannot stop these ingrained and harmful traditional practices; they need the wisdom and support of the grandmothers. Training grandmother leaders is a sustainable way to prevent FGM – even in times of distress, such as the COVID pandemic. Grandmother Leaders’ work continues regardless of obstacles – they are girls’ strongest advocates for change.
Due to the Coronavirus, schools in Velingara have been closed since mid-March and will not reopen until November. There are no distance learning opportunities, as most families do not even have a radio or schoolbooks. This situation puts girls at a higher risk for FGM, child marriage, teen pregnancy and drooping out of school.
Grandmothers play a role as guardians and transmitters of cultural norms and practices across Africa and in all contexts where FGM is practiced. In our approach, grandmothers are actively engaged, and they are given a central role in the process of abandonment. Other community members who influence FGM directly or indirectly are also involved in GMP-supported activities, catalyzing community-wide dialogue to promote community-driven abandonment.
Grandmothers are fundamental to the socialization and education of girls. Thanks to the support of grandmothers, girls’ fundamental rights and well-being are championed both within their families and the communities in which they live.
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