and the Department of Information Services, through the Media Support to
Advocacy Project funded by UNICEF and other partners, on Tuesday held an
Inter-Zonal Meeting on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, Forced and Early
Marriage and other issues affecting the lives of women and children.
meeting was held at Kundam Foday village in the Tumana district URR, was
attended by officials of Tostan, the Department of Information Services, women
and children from the four villages of Kundam including the host village, and
journalists among others.
meetings are an integral part of the community empowerment programme (CEP)
implementation, aimed at fostering learning and sharing of best practices from
CEP participants and communities.
project allows communities and participants to share good ideas and information
on what they have learned at the CEP classes, and how the knowledge and
information changed their lives as individuals and communities.
meeting, which took off on Monday night, saw a cultural night with drama
display on the effects of FGM/C, early and forced marriage and a host of other
meeting day on Tuesday was also witnessed by participants who benefitted
directly from the project, and who are mainly women, young girls and boys who
were able to translate what they have learned in their various local languages
to help educate their community.
deputy Assistant National coordinator of Tostan, Edirisa Keita, said before the
intervention of Tostan in the communities, people had less knowledge in the
areas of health, FGM\C, education, and women’s voices were not respected, but
that has now become a thing of the past.
said the project has helped the community on how to improve lives.
said the intervention areas of the project are governance, education, health,
environment and economic-growth which, he said, is not about giving money to
people, but empowering them with knowledge and live skills that are aimed at
solving their problems.
Keita said they taught them in their own languages for them to be able to
want URR to be an example in The Gambia. We want URR to not remove children
from school for marriage. We urged them to continue to promote girls
though their project in URR is ending this December 2016, it was the time for
more work to be done because they have put up structures that they could
continue with to help empower and educate children and women and their
communities, he added.
assured them that even after the project ends they will continue to engage
deputy Director of the Department of Information Services, Ebrima Njie, said he
has seen that Tostan did a great job.
have been working with Tostan through the Media Support to Advocacy project for
five years, which focused on empowering women and children.
added that anytime Tostan has a programme, they would come with journalists
from major media houses to come on the ground and report on what they see.
all agree that early, forced and child marriage is bad. We all agree that
taking children out of school for marriage is bad, so I’m appealing to men to
stop marrying off children as second wives, so that together we can end child
the years, Tostan empowered various communities in URR on crucial issues
relating to the well-being of the communities, such as telling them to stop
FGM\C, on the importance of allowing young girls to complete their education
and avoiding child marriage, and has trained them on human rights, and so on.
Njie said the media support to advocacy project, over the years, partnered with
Tostan by providing media coverage of their various programmes and the
noted that this partnership between the project and Tostan has helped other
communities to understand some of the issues affecting them.
urged communities to practice what was taught, and skills received and
knowledge again during the past years of intervention.
He used the opportunity to thank UNICEF for
providing funds for the inter-zonal meeting and Tostan for the great job they
have done in URR.
Ceesay, the ward councillor of Damphakunda, said Tostan is working very hard in
The Gambia, which everyone has seen.
added that they have built the skills of the people through improving their
education and knowledge of the rights of the rural people.
urged the beneficiaries to disseminate the information gained, adding that FGM
is now a thing of the past in the community through capacity building training
to everyone in the community.
said that most of them believed that they should not take their kids for
vaccination, because they believe too much injection was not good for children;
but thanks to the project for creating the right environment for them, and now
they could proudly take their children for vaccination.
Baldeh, a women’s leader, said the area of women’s empowerment is very positive
since the coming of Tostan.
it took 4-6 months before a pregnant woman in URR would go to visit the
hospital, but through training pregnant women had realised the importance of
seeing a doctor while they are pregnant to avoid complications.
before lacked awareness, but thanks to Tostan, they have improved on their
health issues, and are empowered to such an extent that they as women of these
communities have a say, when it comes taking decisions.
Krubally called on women to ensure that they hold firmly unto their decisions,
when they say that they have abandon FGM/C totally.
revealed that they have seen some children being taken across the border to be
cut, during school holidays.
said early, forced and child marriage should also be stopped, because all these
laws are geared towards helping and promoting the healthy growth of children.
have witnessed a case where weddings were organized for children and they were
pampered, and then taken to other countries for marriage which does not turn
out well, as their health is threatened with a lot of complications.
said the law is here to protect them, and not to spoil any child.
urged them to educate their children, and desist from taking them out of school
to become baby-sitters at home.
called on men who are the fathers and husbands to desist from making decisions,
such as talking their girl-child out of school for marriage.