May 29, 2017, 10:55 AM
The two-day forum, opened on Friday at a hotel in Kololi, was organised in partnership with Safe Hands for Girls (SHFG) to engage youth in dialogue to make them aware of the social and health implication of FGM.
It was held under the theme “FGM and Youth: Stopping an old-age tradition in Generation”.Organizers said it was designed to encourage and empower youth to accelerate the abandonment of FGM through youth-led strategies and initiatives.
Musu Bakoto Sawo, programme manager of TYW, said the camp is a platform for the young people to discuss issues that affect them especially issues like FGM.
She hailed The Gambia government “for the support they have shown” to make the country FGM-free, saying the government has indicated the political commitment to put a stop to the practice.
Ms Sawo pointed out that about 75 per cent of the women population of The Gambia has gone under FGM.
“This is quite alarming,” she said, adding in view of this, TYW has organised several activities key among them was the first national youth forum on FGM.
Ms Sawo further explained that they implemented other activities such as the booth campaign on gender-based violence which focus mostly on issues like FGM.
Mam Lisa Camara, coordinator SHFG, said the much appreciated presidential pronouncement banning FGM in The Gambia is not the end of the fight against FGM in the country.
“Still a lot has to be done to fully ensure that every Gambian drops the knife not only by saying it but by their actions of dropping the knife,” she said. “It is a tradition to the heart of the people that practice it, so to bring it to a halt does not take them one day but a lot of dialogue and sensitisation has to be done as well.”
Ms Camara said this is why they partnered with TYM to have a dialogue with the people to make them understand the implications of FGM.
“Let’s all come together and fight; let’s all come together and make our parents understand; let’s all come to together and don’t allow our children to go through what we went through,” she asserted.
Lamin Darboe, executive secretary of the National Youth Council, applauded all those who contributed to the fight against FGM in The Gambia.
“I really appreciate the efforts our women who has 30 years ago identify this old practice and they wake up to it and say this most stop,” he said.
Mr Darboe said the last few years witnessed a new climax in the fight against FGM.
The NYC executive secretary said the council’s partnership with TYW, SHFG, The Girls Agenda and other organisations in the fight against violence against women including FGM will still continue.
Binta Jammeh-Sidibeh, executive director Women’s Bureau, said the Gambia’s vice president, Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy, is the first to start the sensitisation on FGM way back in 1984 when the campaign first started in The Gambia.
She said they are happy that young people took up the mantle to continue sensitising people on FGM since the Gambian leader, President Yahya Jammeh, made the pronouncement banning it.
“The pronouncement is the beginning, it is just to make us braver; making us come up with better strategies of advocacy to make people aware of its implications,” Ms Jammeh-Sidibeh said.
She urged youth to work collectively to end FGM, adding that women and girls go through violence all over the world.
“This calls for a concerted effort by all so as to stop this old-age traditional practice in a generation,” she said.