Young mothers becoming activists to protect their daughters, cutters giving up their trade, and community leaders denouncing FGM – these are just some of the positive stories of change we hear from our End FGM grantees.
This week, we share some of these stories with you in a series of blog posts.
The Child and Environmental Development Association (CEDAG) from The Gambia are seeing some radical results from their work. With their end FGM grant they raise awareness and increase communication and advocacy among religious and community leaders about Gambian laws and the health and psychological risks of FGM. They do this by conducting peer group discussions in eight schools, roundtable discussions and advocacy meetings with community and religious leaders, and end FGM radio programmes.
Sariba Saidy, from CEDAG, tells us more.
"Community leaders are claiming ownership in assuring that the practice of FGM is denounced within their community.
An example of this is in the village of Saaba located in North Bank Region of the Gambia. The village chief (Alkalo) said that he and his village committee will ensure that FGM is not practiced by anyone, through continuous meetings and dialogue with the community members on issues regarding FGM. He even joined us during a community radio program to create greater awareness. He used that opportunity to advocate to his fellow community Alkalos to take a bold step in assuring that FGM is denounced by engaging the community members to understand the negative effects of FGM on women and girls."
Sariba links this achievement to the social change communication training she received from The Girl Generation:
The community members are taking the lead in the abandonment of FGM because of the increased knowledge and better understanding they have on the issue.
“The training has helped us to use the best and most appropriate communication approach during our dialogue meetings with the targeted groups. This has resulted in community members taking the lead in the abandonment of FGM because of the increased knowledge and better understanding they have on the issue. The community leaders, religious leaders and women’s groups, who are influential in their communities, are now ready to take the lead to end FGM through community consultative meetings, ‘Bantaba’ talk shows and radio programmes.”
"Not only do the community leaders now speak out to end FGM, the local or ceremonial singer, who sings during ceremonies such as marriage and naming ceremonies, now uses the opportunity to sing songs denouncing FGM, and sings about the effect on the girl child. This is a sign that the community is now claiming ownership of the campaign to end FGM."
"Community members also held peer group discussions in schools with the participation of teachers. The facilitators for the sessions are personnel from the community health centre, as well as religious and opinion leaders within the region. The participants were able to have one-to-one discussions about FGM and asked questions in order to pass the information and knowledge to their follow students.
"As a result of these groups, the number of FGM ambassadors in these schools has increased. The group can now freely discuss and talk about FGM in a more appropriate and acceptable way, using a Do No Harm approach. These students will then carry on these discussions with their parents and other community members."
CEDAG is a nonprofit organisation in The Gambia. Their mission is to promote the principle of children’s rights, reproductive health and rights awareness and advocacy, women and community wellbeing and fostering the spirit of mutual support within the context of sustainable human development.