Grandmothers educate and support adolescent girls
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.
Grandmothers and girls share a special bond
Telling stories and giving advice under the tree