On July 3, 2011, 92 Djiboutian communities publicly declared their abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC). This was the first declaration of its kind to occur in the small East African country. An estimated 700 participants represented communities from across the country, including the capital city of Djibouti and the Northern and Southern districts. Endorsed by the First Lady Ms. Kadra Mahamound Haid, the ceremony was attended by 200 invited dignitaries, including local government authorities, parliamentarians, religious leaders, civil society associations, and diplomatic missions. Also contributing to the event were coordinators from Tostan Somalia and representatives from Somaliland and Puntland.
The festivities began in the early evening with crowds singing and dancing outside the Palace of the People. Within an hour, a caravan of over 30 buses wound through the city towards the declaration ceremony at the municipal stadium. Nearly one thousand men, women, and children filled the stadium for an evening filled with congratulatory speeches, performances by well-known artists, skits, dancing, and poetry. The public declaration was read in the local languages of Afar, Somali, and Arabic by three representatives, from the north and south of the country and city of Djibouti respectively.
The declaration to abandon female genital cutting was the product of community mobilization for the promotion of human rights and the health of girls. Over the past three years, 33 of the declaring communities participated in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP), where they acquired knowledge about human rights, democracy, health, hygiene, and project management. In turn, these communities shared their understanding with neighboring communities through a process called organized diffusion. Through these discussions, the communities recognized the connection between the negative health consequences of FGC and a girl’s right to health and collectively decided to abandon the practice. Tostan implemented the CEP in Djibouti in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Promotion of Women.
Click here to read an article about the declaration by La Nation, a major Djiboutian newspaper.
Click here to view television coverage of the declaration by Radio Télévision de Djibouti, a national radio and television station. To view, scroll down the page to the report of July 4th at 20h30. The coverage begins at 3:48.
(Please note that both instances of coverage are in French.)