Journal Article

The effectiveness of a community-based education program on abandoning female genital mutilation/cutting in Senegal

A pre- and post-test comparison-group design was used to evaluate the effect of a community education program on community members’ willingness to abandon female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in rural areas of southern Senegal. Developed by TOSTAN (a Senegalese nongovernmental organization), the education program aimed to empower women through a broad range of educational and health-promoting activities. Our findings suggest that information from the program was diffused widely within the intervention villages, as indicated by improvements in knowledge about and critical attitudes toward FGM/C among women and men who had and had not participated in the program, without corresponding improvement in the comparison villages. The prevalence of FGM/C among daughters aged ten years and younger decreased significantly over time as reported by women who were directly and indirectly exposed to the program, but not among daughters in the comparison villages, suggesting that the program had an impact on family behaviors as well as attitudes. Findings from this study provide evidence-based information to program planners seeking to empower women and discourage a harmful traditional practice.