Chapter 11 - Transition: What has feminine excision to do with the present workshop? From all the preceding examples, what do we do for women and through them for children, especially in the field of elimination of feminine excision? Our first worry is to arouse the will of women to free themselves. We should well understand; this freedom concerns men as well as women. A woman who does not eat well is not free, and her child is not free either. A woman bleeding excessively during childbirth, because she has no clitoris is not free, her husband also.
However, the very fact that the rate of participation of a woman in production (70 to 80 %) for the progress of the community and even of her country is not to be neglected; it is necessary that she should be made aware in the first place, of problems and thereby
guided to discover for herself the solutions which she can easily offer.
What can we do precisely?
Since the beginning of our meeting I hear people talking of hospitals, doctors, experts, etc... for the elimination of feminine excision. But how many of these luxuries of our big cities do we have in the rural areas? In many countries, especially in the third world there is only one physician to 300 000 inhabitants. If this is proved to the contrary, the solutions will not come by miracle, and women taking charge of their own problems will surely be indispensable.
The method whereby women take part in the solution of their own problems will lead them to eat things locally produced, in varying what they eat this will enable them to know the functioning of their body, etc. This can suggest to them that they vary their agricultural production. But the precise case which is the subject of our meeting today is that there are certain ancestral traditional practices, such as excision, that are detrimental to the health of mothers and children. These practices must be abandoned, even eradicated, through a general awareness-raising exercise.
If a mother is in good health, there is no doubt that her child is healthy also. "If women are integrated in the development exercise in a correct and balanced manner, there is no doubt that the future of Africa will be assured", said René Dumont and Marie Moutin in their book entitled "L'Afrique Etranglée" (Strangled Africa). And the future is for children who will be responsible for the world of tomorrow. If these children are healthy and if the infantile mortality is diminished, our responsibility will only be to increase production all round: building schools, specialized institutions, training leaders, teaching illiterate women to read, making the rural people aware so as to take development into their own hands for self-sufficiency. You will see now why our action in the field is global.
We are concerned with the problems of feminine excision, but mother and child health, nutrition, and especially family planning, not forgetting food production and training of local leaders, such as volunteer’s health promoters, traditional midwives (matrons) etc. are also of interest to us.