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.”
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