#Article (Archive)

First national youth forum on FGM convened

Oct 8, 2014, 11:49 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The first national youth forum on FGM in The Gambia was held yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi under the theme: “FGM and Youth Stopping an Age-old Tradition in a Generation.”

The forum was sponsored by ActionAid, Tostan, Gamcotrap, UNFPA, Unicef, Wassukafo Gambia and Women’s Bureau.

In her opening speech, Binta Jammeh-Sidibeh, the Executive Director at the Women’s Bureau, applauded the efforts of Think Young Women and Save Hands for Girls for spearheading such an innovative strategy to enhance awareness on the health implications of FGM/C.

“I am reliably informed that this day’s convergence targeting 100 young people across the country will be engaged in an interactive dialogue so as to enhance awareness on the social, economic and health impact of FGM, which is indeed relevant and timely,” she said. According to Ms Sidibeh, as they witness another important and remarkable moment in their collective efforts to eliminate Female Genital Cutting let them remember that women and girls continue to be victims of such violence across the continent and the world at large.

This calls for a concerted effort as the theme of the conference indicates: “FGM/C and Youth Stopping an Age-old Tradition in a Generation,” she added.

“My statement will focus more on the legislative and programmatic measures that the Government of The Gambia implements to address issues affecting the health and well-being of women and girls,” she stated.

The role of the government in eliminating violence against women and girls is twofold: Ensuring that there are preventive measures to mitigate violence; and, secondly to put in place legislative measures for litigation and addressing impunity, she said.

Ms Sidibeh said the foundation of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offence Act 2013 is also a significant milestone in addressing violence against women and girls.

The main purpose of the Act is to combat domestic violence, provide protection for victims of domestic violence, particularly women and children, as well as to harmonize the provisions of CEDAW in national legislation, she further stated.

The Gambia also signed and ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2006 without reservation, she continued.

Sait Matty-Jaw said the National Youth Forum on FGM was an initiative of Safe Hands for Girls, Think Young Women, the National Youth Council and other organizations that share a common interest in the campaign for the rights of women in The Gambia and the world at large. As the forum coordinator, Jaw said it was not an easy task facilitating the organization of this august gathering, but they are thankful to have arrived at this point of a long journey towards creating a platform for the proactive contribution of young people in this campaign.

He added that Gambia government over the years has initiated a number of activities on women’s rights which became intensified after the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995.

In spite of the various national interventions and achievements, there still remain some significant traditional practices like Female Genital Mutilation, early marriage and nutritional taboos leading to gender gaps and inequities that expose young people to reproductive health problems, he said.