“Waylowaylo”: Changing attitudes on girls’ education to delay marriage in Senegal [Video]

To celebrate International Human Rights Day on 10 December, Girls Not Brides member Tostan and Venice Arts, in collaboration with the Sundance Institute and The Skoll Foundation, launched a series of short films telling stories of change in Senegal.

One of them is “Waylowaylo”, meaning “change” in Pulaar.

Through the eyes of a girl named Maoundé, and her father, the village chief, “Waylowaylo” tells the story of how a small community in Senegal chose education over marriage.

After three years of human rights education through Tostan’s community empowerment programme, the village of Tankanto Maoundé in Kolda, Senegal, made the collective decision to invest in girls’ education and to delay their marriage.

Maoundé is one of the girls who benefited from this programme. A few years ago, her father refused to support her ambition of going to school. He explains why:

“In our tradition, girls were not allowed to go to school. We kept our daughters until they were 13 and then gave them into marriage to close family members. This was the reason that I refused to send her to school.”

In our tradition, girls were not allowed to go to school. We kept our daughters until they were 13 and then gave them into marriage.

During the three years of the programme, however, Maoundé’s father quickly saw the advantages of educating his daughter:

“With the change from the Tostan programme, I began to understand the importance of education for Maoundé and I began to support her in her schooling. Since the changes have come to the village, I, as a father, regret my refusal to send Maoundé to school.”

As the village leader, he is now confident in the belief that communities should invest in girls’ education, not their early marriage.

Fostering change through storytelling

“Waylowaylo” is the result of a Tostan-led community training in media techniques and documentary filmmaking that enabled community members to use the power of storytelling to share the stories that are most meaningful to them.

The film will be used in communities to foster dialogue on girls’ education, and to bring community voices to the fore.

“The amplification of community voices really is key to empowering development, and through participant-produced filmmaking, community priorities and solutions can be brought directly to the forefront,” explained Molly Melching, Founder and Executive Director of Tostan.

“This project developed participants’ knowledge of documentary filmmaking and their skills in using media tools but, and more importantly, it deepened their ability to listen for, visualize, and uplift stories of transformation; to understand that even small stories, told well, can serve as witness, facilitator, and change agent”, added Lynn Warshafsky, Founder and Executive Director of Venice Arts.