Sédhiou, Senegal – As part of its programme to work towards the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) by enhancing the capacity of African parliaments to exercise their oversight, representative and legislative functions with regard to FGM/C, AWEPA facilitated the organisation of a two-day workshop designed to train and raise awareness among focal persons in local communities in Sédhiou, Senegal, on 14 and 15 June 2015.
The activity was organised by the Taskforce created by the National Assembly of Senegal and AWEPA to implement targeted activities designed to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C in Senegal in close cooperation with AWEPA.
Specifically, the workshop aimed to raise awareness among participants (local focal points for FGM/C, appointed by regional Governors) of the approach adopted by AWEPA and the Taskforce (‘quality over quantity’), as well as the harmful impact that FGM/C can have on the lives of individuals and communities as a whole.
Participants in the workshop included focal persons from the southern Senegalese regions of Sédhiou, Kolda and Ziguinchor, who were selected to provide powerful links to the local communities of these regions, and will aid in the implementation of a qualitative, community-based approach which aims to change perceptions of the practice of FGM/C among local populations.
Additionally, participants were called upon to outline the budget and logistical resources available for future interventions and the possible creation of a documentary on FGM/C as a way to raise awareness. Participants also discussed possible adaptations of the strategy to fit the needs of their local regions to ensure a more targeted and effective approach.
Describing this approach, Dr. Omar Ndoye, Coordinator of the Taskforce, explained that the strategies to be implemented for each social group would be defined according to their local realities. Based on this qualitative method, each of the three regions will be targeted using “concrete, effective and relevant procedures able to truly reach the communities that still practice FGM/C.”
Although Senegal enacted an anti-FGM Law in 1999, FGM/C is still practiced in many Senegalese communities, with prevalence rates among girls and women estimated at 25.7%. Major challenges have emerged regarding the enforcement of the Law, with some claiming that the illegality of the practice has served to push it underground.
Faced with this situation, AWEPA and the National Assembly of Senegal created the Taskforce in 2013 to implement a targeted approach towards the complete abandonment of FGM/C in the country.
AWEPA was also featured in a new Country Report on FGM/C in Senegal, produced by 28 Too Many from Senegal for organisations who work towards raising awareness of FGM/C and ending the practice: