Un autre regard de la femme noir dans tous les aspects de la vie à travers les livres , les articles, les interview et les documentaires."La femme africaine n'est ni un reflet de l'homme ni une esclave.
Elle n'éprouve aucun besoin d'imiter l'homme pour exprimer sa personnalité.
C'est une civilisation originale qu'elle secrète par son travail. son génie propre, ses préoccupations, son langage et ses mœurs" Albertine Tshibilondi Ngoyi
vendredi 21 décembre 2012
The African villages declaring an end to female genital mutilation
NGO Tostan is empowering people in west Africa to understand their human rights and encouraging them to abandon FGM
Molly Melching will travel to Guinea-Bissau this month to witness a milestone moment. Villages in the west African state with whichMelching's organisation, Tostan, has been working, will make public declarations of their intention to live according to the principles of human rights. And by doing so, they promise to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice prevalent in at least 28 African countries.
The declarations follow three years of education and discussion in families, villages and wider communities about people's rights, specifically the rights of women and girls, and what they mean for future wellbeing. They are a mark in the sand; a declaration that the village will no longer tolerate practices deemed to be harmful, and will sanction those who participate in them.
"It's a big declaration," says Melching, in London this week to speak at the Trust Women conference, organised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International Herald Tribune. "Three and a half years ago, people believed so strongly in the practice [FGM], but in the space of three years, the community came together and are holding a declaration of human rights, saying we will own them and apply them."
Guinea-Bissau is one of eight African countries in which Tostan runs community empowerment projects. Local people are trained to run sessions on human rights in their villages and encourage people to talk and eventually take the issues on board. But the process doesn't end with a village declaration of intent. People are encouraged to share what they have learned with family and friends who live in other villages – to spread the word so it sticks.
"To make real change you have to go beyond the community and go to the social network. It's not limited to a village," says Melching. "You have in-laws in other communities, you have to identify people who matter or you can never bring about sustained change." Without this outreach, she says, there is a danger that a mother-in-law living in another village will not know or understand why FGM has been banned and may take a granddaughter to her village to be cut to avoid what she perceives to be dishonour.
This approach is proving successful. Since Melching set up Tostan in 1991, almost 6,000 villages across the continent have abandoned FGM and child marriage. A Unicef evaluation of Tostan's work in 2008 concluded that the programme had accelerated the abandonment of FGM and that the prevalence of the practice had dropped by approximately 70% in villages that participated in programmes, compared with a 40% drop in controlled villages.
The first community declaration to end the practice in Senegal came in 1997. Tostan's has been a major driver for change in Senegal, which has made a commitment to abandoning the centuries-old practice by 2015.
Anti-FGM campaigners received a boost last week when the UN committee on human rights passed a resolution to outlaw the practice. The resolution is expected to be endorsed by the UN general assembly this month. The resolution won't be legally binding but it will add weight to those arguing for change.
Named in 2011 by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in women's rights, and by Newsweek as one of the 150 women who shake the world, Melching has worked in west Africa since 1974. She originally worked on education projects in rural Senegal, where she is still based, and saw the importance of educating girls and women. But not just getting them to read and write. "They need to know their human rights," she says. Since then her work has expanded into countries including Burkino Faso, Mali, Mauritania, the Gambia and Somalia.
Melching refers to FGM as female genital cutting in deference to some of the people with whom she works. The term FGM, she says, implies families were deliberately setting out to harm their daughters, rather than carrying out a rite of passage. The main aim of Tostan programmes is to encourage communities to assess whether cultural practices help villagers to achieve wellbeing, happiness and peace.
"We encourage people to focus on what the important values and morals of their culture are. Do cultural values promote wellbeing and peace and happiness? Maybe 1,000 years ago these [practices] were a way of achieving those goals. Now people are coming together to talk about what their goals and values are, and they see many cultural practices don't help them to achieve those goals. That's when people decide to change."
Everyone has to be involved in these discussions to create what she calls "community laws". While national laws are an important foundation for change, for them to have impact all people have to own them and ensure they are adhered to.
However, Melching is keen to point out that her programmes are not about throwing out culture. "Culture is critical and there are so many beautiful things about culture – the importance of family and network – and we want to reinforce those things."