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We Must Not Fail the Next Generation

Jul 2, 2008, 6:28 AM

We hope that all the young people, both boys and girls, who benefited from last week's one-day bantaba held by The Forum for African Women Educationalists Gambia Chapter (FAWEGAM) in Kanifing take valuable lessons from the experience.

The gathering brought together students from different schools in the region and centered on violence against girls. The importance of this topic cannot be overemphasised. It is only through the education of young people with regard to full gender exclusivity that we can hope to move forward as a nation that can call itself completely inclusive. For too long violence against women was an unspoken evil. Now thanks to sensitisation such as this we can move on from these dark times.

FAWEGAM is an organisation to support women and girls in acquiring education for development.

In her welcoming remarks, the chairperson, Mrs. Emily Foon-Sarr, anticipated that the information shared would be based on practical, real life experiences that will awaken the minds of girls to some of the difficulties they may face in their future lives. It would also however teach the young girls how to be economically independent, self-reliant and confident. These, she said, are the first steps towards shielding oneself from being so easily victimised. She encouraged girls to learn to speak up and report cases of violence.

According to her, years ago violence against women was not given the attention it deserved and was for the most part regarded as an everyday occurrence. This was particularly true because women were subservient and without a voice.

This is a truly vital point. When an issue is not spoken about, it festers in the dark and cannot be tackled fully as the extent of it is not clear or is unacknowledged. Only by shedding the light of truth and justice on these issues can we move forward towards their eradication.

Mrs. Foon-Sarr also stated, "It is only in recent times that women discovered that by coming together they could gain the strength to enable them to claim their rights in a social and religious set-up."

She described the forum as an opportunity to make girls enlightened as to the processes and channels they can access to escape the realities of being the victims of violence.

Hopefully it will also make the male members of the audience realise that violence against women is not acceptable and subservient women are a thing of the past. More of this kind of activity will lead us into a brave new era and we commend all those involved in making it happen. The next generation of Gambian women will thank us for it.

"Women don't forgive failure."

Anton Chekhov