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Accepted Paper:

If your feminism isn’t intergenerational, it’s not feminism: From ‘girl-centred’ to a ‘grandmother-inclusive’ approach to ending child marriage, teen pregnancy and FGM/C in Senegal  


Anneke Newman (Université Libre de Bruxelles University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

To challenge the privileging of girl-centred approaches and exclusion of female elders within current gender, health and development policy and practice, this paper shares the success of the 'grandmother-inclusive' Girls Holistic Development programme run by Grandmother Project in Senegal.

Paper long abstract:

Since the mid-2000s, the ‘Girl Effect’ discourse has reigned supreme in the gender, health, and development field, with adolescent girls framed by major organisations (UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO) as the ultimate potential change-makers in their communities. Hence, programmes aimed at ending practices such as FGM/C and forced or child marriage often aim to ‘empower’ girls through training to challenge their parents and community elders, often through collaboration with local NGOs, to resist such practices. Yet, evidence shows that narrowly girl-centred approaches have limited success in changing social norms. Furthermore, development actors rarely ask what happens to relationships between girls and women of different ages when they are pitted against each other, and few acknowledge the long-term detrimental effects of intergenerational conflict on community cohesion and self-reliance. This paper briefly presents academic literature attesting to the exclusion of female elders in gender and development, and examples of the Girl Effect discourse in policies of organisations working to eradicate child marriage, specifically. Most of the paper will be dedicated, however, to presenting an alternative to such approaches: the Girls Holistic Development programme run since 2009 by Grandmother Project/Change Through Culture in Senegal. GMP uses a ‘community-based and grandmother-inclusive’ approach, including the training of Grandmother Leaders to end forced and early marriage, as well as teenage pregnancy, school drop-out, and FGM/C. Theoretical foundations of this programme are presented, including Freirean education models and the Communication for Social Change approach developed at Johns Hopkins University, as well as empirical data attesting to its success.

Panel P20a
Ageing and older age: unsettling development assumptions I