Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper - Master of Public Policy Student Research Papers
Title Female genital cutting in the Gambia: a case for Tostan
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
URL http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/18595/kopper.pdf?sequence=1
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines female genital cutting (FGC) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO, 2010). This practice has existed in Africa for thousands of years, but over the past few decades it has captured the attention of Western audiences and development organizations. One organization that has received a considerable amount of attention is Tostan, a NGO that implements a human-rights based, non-formal educational program in West and East Africa. Tostan vaulted onto the international scene in 1997 when it began facilitating the first public declaration abandoning FGC. To date, close to 5,000 communities in 5 countries have publically announced their abandonment of FGC in front of political leaders, religious leaders, and other communities in their area. This essay is a case study that explores why Tostan’s program and approach have led to FGC abandonment in The Gambian context. Using curriculum review, classroom observation, and interviews with staff and participants, I found that Tostan’s success stems from its use of a holistic, respectful approach that incorporates community values. An application of the multiple streams policy framework and innovation and diffusion policy models enrich the findings by bringing further insight to FGC at the national level.

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