Aug 5, 2009, 2:57 AM
The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children (Gamcotrap) yesterday held a daylong regional conference on Generating Alternatives against Female Genital Mutilation.
Addressing the opening ceremony, at the Paradise Suites Hotel, Dr. Isatou Touray, the Executive Director of Gamcotrap extends appreciation to YOLOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain for partnering with GAMCOTRAP in addressing Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia.
According to her, the objective of the conference is to share the results and progress made by their project at various levels, to share best practices on the eradication of FGM in the sub-region, to give more visibility to anti-FGM work in The Gambia.
She revealed that GAMCOTRAP is a women's right NGO that promotes women's social, political, economic and cultural rights and focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Noting that the organisation creates awareness on traditional practices, she said it aims at the preservation of beneficial practices, as well as the elimination of harmful traditional practices that are inimical to the well-being of women and children, particularly the girl child.
"Our community outreach activities have resulted to better understanding of the relevant articles of all the conventions on human rights, particularly the rights of women and children."
She added that the framework of the partnership between GAMCOTRAP and Yolocamba Solidaridad is based on the fact that the violence against women and girls is still prevalent.
"Gender equity and equality are far from being achieved, Female Genital Mutilation is still widely practised and impacts negatively on the lives of women and girls and finally harmful traditional practices need to stop and the good practices be encouraged.
These areas of concern are critical for the attainment of the fundamental human rights of women and ensuring their complete well-being and empowerment within their communities," says Dr. Touray.
"In 2009, GAMCOTRAP in partnership with Yolocamba Solidaridad supported by the region of Madrid worked with cluster communities in addressing harmful traditional practices, women's rights and gender based violence. The two specific project sites are Koina in the Upper River Region and Brikamaba in the Central River Region.
As a result, GAMCOTRAP was able- to work closely with target groups that are critical to its advocacy on women and children's rights in these two regions of The Gambia. The project generating alternatives against Female Genital Mutilation has facilitated in-depth knowledge on the social relations shared by cluster communities in The Gambia and practices that are shrouded in secrecy i.e. Female Genital Mutilation. Theorizing this process has brought about unprecedented in-roads in previously resistant communities in the Upper and Central River Regions," she said.
The guest speaker at the occasion, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy, Madam Cindy Gregg commended GAMCOTRAP for their commitment to duties. She however, maintained that to eliminate the practice of FGM cannot happen overnight, rather through an ongoing process.
Tradition, she said, is important but should not harm and undermine the growth and well-being of our children.
Representing the region of Madrid, Mr. Santiago Demiguel salutue Gamcotrap for the success they have registered. He said that they are supporting organizations in countries such as Senegal, Muritania, Guine Bissau and The Gambia in their efforts to fight FGM. He assured them of their continous partnership.