Health - Senegal

When the grandmothers in villages near Vélingara discovered that their daughters were dying in childbirth from hemorrhages caused by female genital cutting, the grandmothers decided to stop this practice, which they had traditionally championed.

They convened intergenerational meetings to identify and perpetuate good traditions (dances, songs, values)---and eliminate the bad ones (FGM, early marriage and teen pregnancy).

With support from The Grandmother Project and World Vision, they are succeeding.

They tell their stories of courage, engagement, and change in GRANDMOTHER POWER.

News About Grandmothers in Senegal

Updates about the grandmother groups in Grandmother Power

Multi Media:

Project Website: The Grandmother Project website describes how the nonprofit builds on the knowledge and experience of grandmothers, and views them as cultural resources and key actors in development.

Video: This video documents the 2008-2011 Girls Holistic Development project in the villages near Velingara Senegal.


Behind the Scenes: See a sampling of images that are not in the book, including husbands and grandchildren, interpreters, local people and scenery that caught Paola’s attention while she was interviewing and photographing grandmothers in villages near Vélingara.

Behind the Scenes Thailand

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In the News:

Judi AubelBreaking News: Judi Aubel, founder of The Grandmother Project has just received the Hero award from Trust Women, a joint venture of the Thomas Reuters Foundation and the International Herald Tribune. The award, which she accepted in London, honored her bold thinking and groundbreakingly innovative work, which the judges deemed impactful and scaleable. See her interview below to learn more about her work.

Interview: Paola interviews Judi Aubel , who launched the Grandmother Project in Senegal.


The Grandmother Project has just shared preliminary findings from an unprecedented qualitative research study conducted in 2012 by cultural anthropologist Judi Aubel among rural grandmothers who live in villages near Velingara Senegal.

The research, designed to define the characteristics that distinguish grandmothers leaders, was based on individual interviews with grandmothers who assumed leadership roles in a three-year project that put an end to female genital mutilation in 20 villages.

Initial findings suggest that grandmother leaders:

  • *are highly respected by others in their communities
  • *have extensive exprience and knowledge of women’s and children’s health
  • *are consulted for advice by others
  • *have the confidence to speak out
  • *are more open to new ideas
  • *are discreet (i.e., trusted to keep confidences and secrets)
  • *are proactive about the solving problems they observe
  • *provide support to others, as well as their families, in times of need
  • *have slightly higher economic status so they can afford to devote some time to helping others  

News Update: A February 2012 US government report describes its progress curbing FGM in many countries, and cites The Grandmother Project’s work in Senegal.