Sep 16, 2009, 6:48 AM
Ever since the Face of Africell competition initiated by Africell, one of the leading GSM companies in the country, started, Gambians have seen a lot of young talented and intelligent girls most of whom would not have been exposed without the competition.
This competition has shed light on the wealth of talented, intelligent and articulate young women that are growing up in our nation. We must ask, seeing these young women in action, what opportunities we are creating for them here in The Gambia and could we be doing more? There has been a notable encouragement and empowerment of women in this country by President Jammeh since he came to power. These girls' ancestors would not recognise The Gambia as it exists today because of the enormous change that has taken place in terms of women's rights and entitlement. This notwithstanding, many women in this country still face enormous challenges. Many girls are not educated and are still kept at home doing menial chores while their brothers are sent to school. Africell should be commended for their exposure of these girls and their highlighting of the great wealth of talented intelligent women in The Gambia but is it not disappointing that if not for the GSM company we might never have met these young women? How many more potential contestants are there in the country who will never get a chance to take part because they are not receiving the education to which they are entitled under international law?
The prizes on offer to the contestants are a fully paid scholarship to study abroad or a brand new Nissan "Pathfinder" 4X4. It will be very interesting to see which prize the eventual winner will choose. Will she choose to go abroad and further her education and on the way broaden her mind and experience through travel? Or will she choose to take the 4X4 and be content to cruise the streets in a brand new vehicle to the admiration of all who see her? The choice will reveal much about the winners expectations in life.
We strongly encourage the eventual winner to choose the scholarship package if they are successful. Even if they have been educated already they should further their studies abroad. Knowledge is never a burden and extra education is always empowering and beneficial. While many might be tempted to choose the vehicle if they are declared the winner they should remember that a vehicle will eventually wear out, especially on Gambian roads, but the intellectual benefits they will reap from furthering their education will stay with them for the rest of their lives. As a well-educated person in the profession of their choice they can get a job that will allow them to purchase any car they wish at a time of their choosing.
We wish the contestants well tomorrow and thank Africell for showing us all the wonderful abundance of intelligent, talented young women living in The Gambia today. They will be wonderful future leaders. Don't forget the final is tomorrow.