60 grandmother leaders will be empowered to protect girls against female genital mutilation (FGM), a very harmful practice. Innovative grandmother leadership training gives them the knowledge and confidence to collectively mobilize their communities against FGM. Empowered grandmother leaders have already put a stop to FGM in 40 communities in southern Senegal. Training grandmother leaders is a sustainable and effective way to stop FGM.
80% of girls in southern Senegal undergo FGM, a deep-seated cultural practice. In rural areas FGM is a social norm followed by virtually all families. Girls are the victims but alone they cannot change the practice. This tradition is passed on mainly by grandmothers who view it as necessary in girls' lives. Most programs view grandmothers as the problem and don't involve them. GMP understands that grandmothers can be part of the solution given their status and authority in communities.
GMP's approach targets those with the power to convince men and other community actors to abandon FGM. Innovative under-the-tree training of illiterate grandmother leaders, with participatory adult learning methods, challenges them to revisit this tradition and take action to combat it. Training has been conducted with 280 grandmothers who together catalyzed their communities to stop the practice. This project replicates the training in 6 communities, empowering 60 grandmothers to stop FGM.
Long-term change in FGM requires changing engrained socio-cultural norms. Grandmothers are norm-setters and enforcers so they must be key targets for change. Biases against grandmothers blind some to their potential as change agents. GMP views grandmothers as an abundant resource for sustained change. With an approach based on respect and dialogue, we have seen grandmothers change. Changing FGM attitudes of girls and mothers is important but long-term change requires that grandmothers change.
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