Social policy from the bottom up: abandoning FGC in sub-Saharan Africa

The authors analyse the experience of Tostan, a Senegalese NGO, with the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) in Senegal, the Sudan, and Mali. Tostan uses nonformal, participatory methodologies to support village-based social change, especially in the areas of human rights and womens health. Following Tostans educational programme, some communities have declared a moratorium on the practice of FGC and have mobilised their families and villages to discontinue its use. This article describes the process used, considers issues that have arisen as the concept is marketed and disseminated beyond Senegal, and reviews implications for grassroots policy initiatives.