(February 2012) In November 2011, 12 PRB Women’s Edition journalists from 11 developing countries traveled to two villages in Senegal, Keur Simbara and Saam Njaay, during the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning to witness the lessons and successes of the Tostan Community Empowerment Program in encouraging the abandonment of female genital cutting and fostering human rights and democracy.

Keur Simbara was one of the first villages to abandon female genital cutting. Villagers welcomed the journalists with music, skits, and words of wisdom from Demba Diawara, the imam who joined with Molly Melching, Tostan’s executive director, in spreading the commitment to abandonment. The village now is also a showcase for solar energy, having sent one of its women to Barefoot College in India for training; for its work with a former excisor who has been retrained as a peanut grower; for a health hut where family planning knowledge and options are dispensed; and for the personal commitment of Demba Diawara, who has now visited 347 villages to encourage abandonment. And, of course, for the bright-eyed girls who continue their education, marry later, know their rights, and dance an “Empowerment Dance” for their visitors.


For more, read blog posts and reports from the Women’s Edition journalists:

“Bringing in Change, the Tostan Way,”by Shai Venkatraman, NDTV, India

“Demba and the Village of Keur Simbara (Senegal),” by Rina Jimenez-David, Philippines Daily Inquirer

“A Quiet Welcome,” by Rina Jimenez-David, Philippines Daily Inquirer

“The Dark Side of Custom,” by Farah Zahidi Moazzam, Newsline (Pakistan)