New Deal: an innovative approach to unlock the potential of girls

The “New Deal” initiative has succeeded in achieving the “zero pregnancy” objective among the members of girls’ clubs and has contributed to the decrease in cases of early pregnancies, child marriages, and gender-based violence in communities. It emerged from the workshop sharing the results of the study on “Vulnerability of Young Girls: New Deal Effect, an innovative approach to behavior change.”, Held on December 12, 2019, in Dakar. Building on these results, Senegal is committed to bringing this major initiative to scale.

The concept called “New Deal” is a community convention that is based on a moral commitment between the girls’ clubs and the parents for a “zero pregnancy” objective within the “girls’ clubs,” explained Mr. Mamadou Khouma, consultant of the study. It is a commitment by parents not to marry their daughters before 18. Young girls, in turn, swear not to get pregnant before marriage. No pregnancy was recorded among the 8,125 girls who signed the New Deal convention. This innovative initiative aims to reduce the vulnerability of young girls through the fight against early marriage and pregnancy, female genital mutilation (FGM), and the promotion of the use of sexual and reproductive health services.

This approach has contributed, particularly in Kolda, to behavioral changes in young girls, parents, and the social environment. Young girls are aware of the role they can play in transforming their families and communities. Thanks to the support of the project “Improvement of the health and well-being of women and adolescent girls in the south of Senegal, funded by World Affairs Canada, the “New Deal” initiative has succeeded in bringing about the emergence of a leadership of young girls within the community, said Mrs. Vicky Leclair, Second Secretary (Cooperation) of the Canadian Embassy in Senegal. “The girls’ club allowed me to become a leader and to support my sisters. The New Deal has allowed me to have a better relationship with my parents and gain broad knowledge about sexual and reproductive health. In my neighborhood, I am cited as a reference”, proudly testified Josiane Biaye, President of the Kolda Girls Club.

The study also highlighted that girls’ clubs are a framework for improving the performance of girls and combating school dropouts. Indeed, monitoring of school performance has permitted to note encouraging results. In Dabo, in Mampatim in the Kolda region, the members of the youth clubs carried out 100% on the examination for the Baccalaureate (BFEM) in 2019. The “new deal” initiative also participated in promoting the use of health services by adolescents and young people. The number of girls (0-19 years) and women benefiting from prevention, protection, and health services relative to female genital mutilation, through the referral of girls’ clubs, has almost doubled each year.

“The results obtained in the field give us much satisfaction,” said Mr. Moussa Faye, Assistant Representative of UNFPA Senegal. “We are launching an appeal to all the actors involved and interested in the Initiative, for a vast and synergistic coalition with the Ministry of Youth for the strengthening and scaling up of the “New Deal” to make it a “Big New Deal” for the sole benefit of adolescents / young people.” It found a favorable response from the national authorities. The Representative of the Minister of Youth, Mr. Samba Gaye, reiterated the commitment made at the Nairobi summit on the 25 years of the ICPD: “Senegal reaffirms the manifest will of the Ministry of Youth to multiply the New Deal in all regions of Senegal.”

Published on 17-12-2019 in UNFPA Senegal

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