Abandoning Female Genital Cutting (FGC)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2006
Abandoning Female Genital Cutting (FGC)
Sat, 05-22-2010 - 3:00pm
Abandoning Female Genital Cutting (FGC)

Abandoning Female Genital Cutting (FGC)


In 1997, a group of women from the Senegalese village of Malicounda Bambara stood before twenty journalists and declared their decision to end the practice of

female genital cutting (FGC)
, a centuries-old tradition in their village. The women had participated in Tostan's basic education program, and the knowledge they had gained in classes on human rights and health led them to make this momentous decision.

Since 1997, 4,579 communities in five countries have joined the women of Malicounda Bambara in abandoning this harmful practice:

  • Senegal (4,121)

  • Guinea (364)

  • The Gambia (48)

  • Burkina Faso (23)

  • Somalia (34)

Although ending FGC was not one of Tostan's initial objectives, it has become a rallying point for Tostan participants. Over the past decade, over 75% of the 5,000 communities estimated to practice FGC in Senegal have publicly abandoned this harmful tradition along with child/forced marriage. We believe that these significant results are due to Tostan's approach and methodology in regard to FGC. 



Why Does Tostan's Approach Work?


Tostan takes a

respectful approach that allows villagers to make their own conclusions about FGC and to lead their own movements for change. In the modules on human rights, participants learn about their human rights to health and to be free from all forms of violence, and they discuss the responsibilities they share to protect these rights in their community. In sessions on health, they learn about the potential immediate and long-term harmful consequences of the practice and discuss ways to prevent these health problems in the future.

Thus, rather than blaming or criticizing, the Tostan program

places villagers in charge of decisions regarding the practice. 


FGC is not a requirement for communities to participate in the education program.



Tostan's methodology is central to FGC abandonment.

Because FGC is linked to marriage opportunities, abandonment requires a

collective decision by intramarrying groups. By helping to foster collective abandonment, Tostan's program allows community members to share the knowledge they gain with their neighbors, friends, and family members. Participants and

Community Management Committee (CMC)
 members travel to other communities to raise awareness about what they have learned in class. Through this process, entire zones or regions can decide to end FGC together without having directly participated in Tostan classes.


Visit our

FGC Abandonment News

page for recent news about FGC abandonment in communities.


Basking in the wonder of spring...


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2009
Mon, 05-24-2010 - 3:45pm
This is a great approach to a problem of daunting magnitude! I wish Tostan continued success in its mission of education and collective abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation.


Community Leader of Women's Health