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Second Public Declaration To Abandon FGM In The Gambia

Oct 27, 2009, 2:02 PM

Thirteen villages from the Upper River Region of The Gambia are preparing to join a growing social movement to promote health and well-being in Africa by ending Female Genital Cutting (FGM) and child/forced marriage.

On Sunday, October 25, these communities met in the village of Manneh Kunda to make this public declaration. It would be the second declaration to put an end to FGM and child/forced marriage in The Gambia, organised by communities of the Mandinka ethnic group. The first Gambian declaration of 24 communities took place in Darsilameh in June, 2009.

According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2005/2006: UNICEF, World Bank and Gambia Bureau of Statistics), the national prevalence rate of FGC in The Gambia is 78% percent, with a 99% prevalence rate in Basse in the Upper River Region.

Tostan, in partnership with UNICEF and the Women?s Bureau of the government of The Gambia began the implementation of its Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) in 40 Mandinka communities in this Region in 2006, in collaboration with two dynamic local NGOs: WASDA and NAYAFS.

During the three-year programme, the communities learnt about democracy, human rights, problem-solving, hygiene and health, as well as literacy, maths and basic management skills.

The communities began discussing the possibility of ending the practices of FGM and child/forced marriage in 2008. To gather support for the declaration, they created a team of participants and community leaders who traveled to nearby communities to share and discuss with them on the issue.

In addition to these awareness-raising discussions, Tostan produced a radio programme broadcast in the Mandinka language once a week to reinforce ideas learnt in class.

Before the decision was made, participants and village leaders held a series of discussions and inter-village meetings. As a result of the social mobilisation activities, three villages decided to join the declaration, even though they had not directly participated in the Community Empowerment Programme.

A press conference preceding the declaration will take place on Saturday, October 24, in the village of Kanubeh, located eight kilometers from the regional capital, Basse.

The public declaration will take place on Sunday, October 25, in the village of Manneh Kunda, located about three kilometers from Basse. Local government officials, the Director of the Women?s Bureau, the UNICEF Representative for The Gambia, NGOs, neighbouring villages in the region, religious and traditional leaders from the Upper River Region were all invited to attend the ceremony.