Manantali region: End of the practice of circumcision of female children and adolescents

A cooperation with the BMZ and Muso Jiriva (blossoming of women) Bamako

Country: Mali
Project management: Senta Möller, Nora Pistor
Funding amount: EUR 32,000
Duration: 2005 – 2007
Local project partner: Muso Jiriva (Aufblühen der Frauen) Bamako


Around 30,000 people live in the Manantali region. More than half are women. The most widespread ethnic group is that of the Malinkés. Agriculture and livestock are the main activities of the population.

Life in the region was lastingly changed by the dam built in the 1980s. It was primarily intended to serve the purposes of generating electricity, making the Senegal River from Sain-Louis (Senegal) to Kayes (Mali) navigable and creating irrigation areas. As a result of the forced resettlement of the population in the region, the problems of scarcity of living space, the limitation of arable land per inhabitant, the decline in soil fertility and thus harvest yields and the general impoverishment of the rural population, especially women, arose in recent years.

National information campaigns against circumcision have only reached the big cities. The region around Manantali is not informed. A draft law against circumcision has been submitted to the National Assembly of Mali, but the government only wants to get the population to refrain from circumcision through awareness-raising campaigns.

At the request of parts of the population, women’s and youth groups as well as political and religious leaders, materra, with financial support from the BMZ, carried out an extensive information and awareness-raising campaign in an area with 30,000 people in 36 villages. Extensive awareness-raising about the harmful consequences of circumcision was carried out through radio broadcasts, theater plays, posters and video presentations. The approx. 60 circumcisers were retrained to become potters, obstetricians and also to make soap.
In particular, the political and religious leaders, the village chiefs and numerous women’s organizations supported the project in the events.
Particularly important, however, were the nationwide radio broadcasts in which the young men in particular denounced the shameful practice of circumcision.
Through the project in Mopti with the financing of fistula operations, materra saw that circumcisions are often the cause of bladder-vaginal fistulas. Materra therefore made it its goal to prevent circumcision and genital mutilation instead of financing expensive operations.
By preventing genital circumcision, a major cause of birth complications is eliminated.



The aim of the project is to end the practice of circumcision in favor of around 6,000 female children and adolescents. This goal is to be achieved by convincing local opinion leaders and women’s groups, including circumcisers, of the harmfulness of circumcision and by sensitizing the entire population and at the same time by renouncing and retraining the circumcisers. The offer of medical care is intended to help women directly, and also to increase trust in the anti-circumcision campaign and at the same time to specifically point out the harmful consequences of circumcision that have already occurred.

The concrete goals:

  • Comprehensive information and education of the entire population about the far-reaching consequences of circumcision for girls and women.
  • Conviction of the population to protect the physical integrity of girls in order to avoid damage to health, prevent suffering and thereby counteract further impoverishment.
  • Sanctioning all future attempts to perform circumcisions again.
  • Transformation of traditional rites, especially initiation rites.
  • Medical care for the girls and women affected.

Target Group

The target group of the project is the population in 36 villages in the Manantali area. In the traditionally conservative population, girls between the ages of 3 and 12 are circumcised by removing their clitoris.

1% of girls bleed to death or die from an infection after circumcision. The women often suffer lifelong pain, childbirth problems, chronic infections, and mental illness.


In 2006, Dr. H. Deserno, Sigmund Freud Institute, Frankfurt a.M., wrote a treatise on the question of how projects to combat genital mutilation can be justified and combined with a study design. If you are interested, please contact the project managers.

Instruments to achieve the project goals:

  1. Contacts with the political leaders and opinion leaders in the villages
  2. Awareness programs with groups of women in approx. 30 villages within a 60 km radius
  3. Half-hour radio broadcasts on two local radio stations
  4. Plays with local actors
  5. Sensitization of tailors and blacksmiths
  6. Initiation of income-generating activities for circumcisers
  7. Official meetings of village chiefs, women’s groups and former circumcisers
  8. Medical care for secondary diseases

Project executing agency in the partner country

The project came about through the initiative of women’s groups from the villages in Manantali, who then planned the project together with the women from MUSO JIRIWA (see below). All women are themselves affected by circumcision and are accordingly strongly motivated to successfully manage the project.

MUSO JIRIWA (Aufblühen der Frauen)
BP: 7 Manantali Mali

The organization MUSO JIRIWA has existed since 1998 and is officially recognized by the government in Bamako as a non-profit organization. Its aim is the legal and economic improvement of rural women. A total of 10 people work for this NGO.

MUSO JIRIWA has already run an awareness campaign about women’s rights together with the women’s groups in the project area.



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