Assembly select committee on health recently attended a two-day orientation
workshop on research findings on FGM.
The workshop was organised by the Network Against Gender-Based Violence, in partnership with ActionAid International-The Gambia with funding from Amplify Change.
In his opening remarks, Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member for Banjul North and Chairperson of Select Committee on health, said the training on research finding for FGM was very important for National Assembly members. He disclosed that the committee was also responsible for women and children issues as well as that of refugees, humanitarian relief and disaster.
According Mr Sillah, the issue of women and children should be dear to all of them, adding that there are issues that affect them as leaders in society; as decision makers and as members of households because gender concerns both men and women.
He disclosed that the committee as established by law was part of the National Assembly processes and it has multiple functions, adding that the committee served as an oversight one that is scrutinizing issues that concern government.
Omar Badjie, executive director of Actionaid-The Gambia, said the training on research finding on FGM was very timely and would greatly contribute towards enhancing the understanding of what constitutes violation against women and children.
He added that as law makers, this would be of great help in coming up with most appropriate legislations to protect women and children.
Mr Badjie said according to the WHO estimates, two hundred million women and girls worldwide have been subjected to FGM, adding that the majority of them are living in Africa.
He declared that the prevalence rate of FGM/ C among women in the reproductive age group was at about 76 per cent in Africa.
In The Gambia it was estimated that 73 per cent of women aged between fifteen and forty-nine years have gone through FGM that was according to GBOS 2013, he said.
He continued that despite the fact that there exists a law in The Gambia penalising FGM, still now the practices continue, adding that as a nation they have to do everything possible to stop FGM.
He stated that the law alone was not enough; they need to engage in a sensitisation for people to accept that FGM is bad for their children.
Antoinette Corr-Jack, Chairperson of the Network of Gender-Based Violence, said the Network was honoured and privileged to host the orientation on gender-based violence and also to share the findings of the clinical and social research.
She said the persistence of gender-based violence was a great concern to all of them and that was why they all gathered to talk about the issue.
She added that violence against women and girls was one of the most serious crimes of the day and it is a wide spread human rights violation.
According to her, there could be no equality between men and women if women continue to experience gender-based violence on a large scale, saying that it was the state agencies and societies which are absolutely vital to address the many challenges that confront them today.