At Work in Senegal

Wednesday, November 11th to Sunday, November 15th

Crown Princess Mary traveled to Senegal with the two organizations Orchid Project and Tostan for her to get a better understanding and work with the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) focusing on girls and women's rights such as female genital mutilation. On November 15th Crown Princess Mary witnessed a ceremony to abandon female genital cutting (FGC).

Orchid Project -working together to end female genital cutting
The Orchid Project was founded back in 2010 by Julia Lalla-Maharajh who volunteered to help in Ethiopia. Here she had witnessed FGC (Female Genital Cutting) and how damaging it was to just one country. Back in UK she was ready to take action fighting against FGC and with the question: What can we do to end FGC? -she began her work with the Orchid Project after she had visited Tostan who had the answer to her question. Orchid are supported by the Mary Foundation. You find more information about the project here

Tostan -dignity for all
As an exchange student, Molly Melching, visited Senegal back in 1974. After her finishing her studies she staid there to work as a volunteer. She created the first radio program for children in national language. Her world brought her to rural villages, here she found out that many of the development effort were not addressing its true needs. Than the Community Empowerment Program were created, a program that respectfully engaged the communities to work in their own languages and use traditional methods of learning. And in 1991 Tostan was founded. Read more about Tostan right here

It comes as no surprise that Mary travel to Senegal to show her support and offer her help in fighting against female genital mutilation. For quite some years now, Mary had been committed to help girls and women worldwide. I found a phrase in an article on, who are the one who has arranged Mary being presence, that says: "HRH Crown Princess Mary is a strong voice on the issue of women's rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights around the world." A well description on what I think Mary try to achieve in her work with and for girls and women. She also attended, not that long ago, The Global Network of Women's Shelters' Conference in the Netherlands accompanied by Queen Máxima she showed her appearance in yet another aspect of helping girls and women. Another area that demands attention. She attended because of her prominent figure as member of the High Level Task Force for ICPD, as patron of the WHO Regional Office for Europe and chairman of the Mary Foundation. As patron of the UNFPA she is the perfect represent to go to Senegal. On most visit she are followed the the world press, writing non-stop to tell about her stay. This time her visit was a bit more private and it is only now, after she arrived to Denmark again, we hear about her visit. And actually the articles I have found is only about her last day, but maybe it is also the most important one because Mary witnessed an sensational ceremony to abandon female genital cutting. 

Over fifty communities, 1,000 people, were gathered in the Kaolack region of Senegal to declare the end of a centuries old practice: the female genital cutting. Along with representatives from among other UNICEF, UNFPA and local representatives from the Government Mary witnessed the declaration. Something many people around the world have worked for in many years. To celebration the declaration included formal speeches as well as traditional music and dance. This is truly a day to remember. According to Orchid's website Mary said at the ceremony:
"It is both a joy and privilege to witness local communities celebrate their decision to stop cutting their daughters. This decision has come from within the communities themselves and this is the mark of true and sustainable development." - HRH Crown Princess Mary
At the same time the communities take part in a human rights education program run by the local NGO Tostan. Their Community Empowerment Program will enable them to hold the conversation about human rights and what it really means to them. With the help from the Orchid Project the community members to take the discussions about human rights and spread them to the neighboring villages. Over 7,300 communities have already declared abandonment in The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

I'm not quite sure when the picture below was taken but I just had to share it with you. I was taken one of the days she visited Senegal, dressed in what I believe is a traditional dress from Senegal in a bright pink colour. Do you happen to know when this picture was taken?

On her last day, after five days, Mary attended the ceremony dressed casual in her white Zara lace blouse and a navy blue maxi skirt from By Malene Birger, worn this summer at Gråsten. Accessorized with jewellery I think are gifts, she celebrated a day to remember in Senegal.

Blouse: Zara Lace Blouse DKK 159 (on sale)
Skirt: By Malene Birger Severa Pleated Silk Crepe de Chine Maxi Skirt £170.55 (on sale)


  1. From my friends "down under"