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Gannon Gillespie – Guardian Professional - Thursday, 29 August 2013 (originally published 22 Aug)

Senegalese chief and imam, Demba Diawara walks among villagers

Demba Diawara, Senegalese village chief and imam. Image: Alisa Hamilton/Tostan

“A person’s family is not their village. The family includes one’s entire social network: their relatives in many surrounding villages, in all of the places they marry, even in far off countries like France and the United States … If you truly want to bring about widespread change … they must all be involved,” says Demba Diawara, Senegalese village chief and imam.

He describes how social change can occur within communities. He applied this idea in 1997 and 1998, reaching out within his social network to end female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) by mobilising 13 communities to make a public declaration to end FGM/C. This process has now been replicated many times by others, leading thousands more to publicly abandon the practice.

Demba’s is an exciting, expansive, yet challenging strategy. To change his community, he must change his entire extended family network, which in west Africa means a lot of people . . .

. . . read complete article . . .

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