May 13, 2008, 5:45 AM
Several circumcisers in the Upper River region recently dropped their knives at a mass declaration programme held at the mini-stadium in Basse thanks to the efforts of Tostan.
Speaking at the programme, a representative from the Office of the Vice President, Ello Jallow, said the community participation in the Tostan programme has provided them the opportunity and knowledge to break gender barrier and take active leadership roles in their families and communities.
Mr Jallow cited an official report arguing that in 2005 the Upper River Region lacked behind in many human development and health issues that affect women and girls more than the male sex.
As a result of the community empowerment programmes a massive public declaration on female genital cutting, child abuse and early marriages were made, he said.
Also speaking at the declaration on behalf of the Basse steering committee’s chairperson, Alhagie Jallow described the event as very important in the sense that it is geared towards witnessing the achievement and positive social transformation registered by their communities.
According to him, the Basse communities have been participating in the programmes of UNICEF, Tostan and the
According to him, the Gambia Government recognizes gender equality and women empowerment as key factor for the attainment of social and economic development.
He finally thanked UNICEF for funding the project and Tostan team for implementing the programme in The Gambia, especially in the Upper River Region.
For his part, Salifu Jarsey, a child protection specialist at UNICEF, applauded the communities of Basse for their massive participation in abandoning Female Genital Cutting (FGC) in URR.
He noted that Tostan alone cannot do it all, but with the support of the communities, Tostan will achieve its dreams. He said it is therefore a collective responsibility to ensure that the project is sustained.
The Governor of URR, Omar Khan, expressed total satisfaction over the holistic approach that Tostan and its development partners, UNICEF and Gambia Government are taking to end FGC in his region.
He noted that Tostan has brought a lot of developments and changes in his region by creating awareness for the community of URR. Governor Khan added that Tostan is now an eye-opener to the community of URR.
Other speakers on the occasion include the female circumcisers who all agreed to drop their knives after undergoing a three-year intensive training led by Tostan.
“We have been suffering but we thank Tostan for helping us to see the light,” they say.