Fighting female sexual mutilation is all about changing social norms.

Why we care: Female sexual mutilation is a major factor in the death and irreversible health, social and psychological consequences for women and girls, but also for their children.

How we’re solving this: Ensuring that a woman who is not mutilated is accepted by her community.

Nearly 98% of women in the Kayes region of Mali have experienced female sexual mutilation. This practice, also called female circumcision and female genital mutilation, includes all forms of surgical removal of the female external genitalia, total or partial, and all types of other alterations made for cultural reasons or other non-therapeutic motives.

For many years, Equilibres & Populations in partnership with AMSOPT—the Malian association for abandonment of harmful traditional practices—has been perfecting a process that has now proved to be effective: 100 villages out of the 250 around Kayes have officially abandoned female sexual mutilation. To foster community support, project staff host informative talks about FSM with community and religious leaders, village chiefs, village relays and women’s group representatives. This is the start of a long, sustained relationship that helps build trust and make a favorable environment for behavior change and advocacy against the practice.

In addition, the project offers virtually free care for female sexual mutiliation-related issues. This is a critical element of the project because it shows the community the obvious links between sexual mutilation and its repercussions on health–as a result strengthening the impact of advocacy against female sexual mutilation. It also offers an opportunity to train local doctors and health professionals to address female sexual mutiliation complications. This is only a beginning.

Funding for this project will help support 20 additional villages be engaged in this transformative effort. Everyday, female field coordinators, relying on their communication skills, will ride their motorbikes between villages and meet with communities. They will carry out conversations with women, but also with men, young and elderly, with the purpose of creating a debate and, eventually, of reaching a consensus tying the whole community to the decision to abandon female sexual mutilation. In order to prevent any opposition from community leaders, trainings will be carried out beforehand, involving village chiefs, religious authorities, community representatives and leaders of women’s groups.

At the end of the project, an abandonment ceremony will be organized.

Putting and end to FSM not only improves women’s living conditions, it also beneficiates to the whole community. Thanks to your support, across 20 villages in Kayes, not a single newborn girl will suffer from this harmful traditional practice.



Equilibres & Populations is supported by the Kering Foundation, which combats violence against women and promotes their empowerment. Launched in January 2009, the Foundation supports community-based projects and encourages employee involvement to sustain women’s causes around the world. Through four programmes, it supports local and international NGOs as well as social entrepreneurs, helps raise awareness and establishes joint projects with the Kering brands. In 2012, more than 80,000 women benefited from its support in 16 countries. *In line with PPR’s change of name, the PPR Corporate Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights will become the Kering Corporate Foundation, subject to approval at the Foundation’s board meeting on 26 June 2013. @KeringForWomen



Equilibres & Populations is a member of Girls Not Brides a global partnership of more than 250 non-governmental organizations committed to end child marriage.  @GirlsNotBrides