Today on February 6th, International Day for the Abandonment of FGC, we are delighted to be supporting 14 neighbourhoods in Yirimadio, Mali, to declare their abandonment of female genital cutting.
Mali’s recent past has been turbulent and this commitment toward an end to FGC within such an environment is inspiring. This is a major milestone in a country where the practice has been carried out on 85% of girls. The event is being held in partnership with Tostan and the Government of Mali, who specifically chose the 6th Feb, the UN day for the abandonment of FGC, as the date for the declaration to show their support for the movement and to make a statement to the international community and diaspora.
This is only the second public declaration of abandonment by Tostan partner communities in Mali, and the first declaration in an urban setting. 38 communities have been participating in Tostan’s holistic nonformal community empowerment programme, the first time it has been implemented in Mali. After starting the programme in 2009, there was a break of nine months following the coup d’état; despite this participants insisted on continuing. A loss of funding after the violence meant that a number of smaller donors, Orchid Project included, have stepped in to support activities to continue.
Communities in the rural district of Koulikoro publicly abandoned the practices of FGC and child/forced marriage in June 2013. At that time, the 14 communities in the urban area of Yirimadio, where over 60,000 people live, were not yet ready to make this step as, despite the conviction of many community members, several community leaders remained hesitant. However, thanks to the dedication of community members and the continued support of Tostan, momentum began to build towards a declaration in Yirimadio.
The 14 sectors who are participating in this declaration are the same ones which saw such a remarkable decline in child mortality in three years. The event will be held at the ‘Stade du 26 Mars’, a stadium in Yirimadio, District of Bamako, Mali. Speakers will include; the Chief of Yirimadio area, Mayor of Yirimadio, Leader of Financial and Technical Partners FGC sub-group, and the Minister for Promotion of Women, Family and Children.
The communities in Mali will join a larger movement towards an end to FGC in Africa. As of today, over 6,700 communities in eight countries have already publicly declared their abandonment of FGC.