Jan 28, 2011, 10:39 AM
Young People in the Media (YPM), in collaboration with UNICEF and the British High Commission, on Thursday held a press conference on the Day of the African Child celebration at the UNICEF office at Cape Point, Bakau.
In her welcoming remarks, YPM president Adama Lee Bah said YPM is a non-profit organization of children and young people in the media.
She said the organization was formed in early 2006 as part of activities marking the international children’s day of broadcasting.
She said the organization seeks to empower young people within the framework of participatory platform for children and young people in advocating on child protection, child rights and promoting agenda in the electronic, broadcast and print media.
She said YPM in collaboration with partners will commemorate this year’s Day of the African Child (DAC) on 22 June on the theme ‘Early marriage and its consequences’.
For his part, Fallou Sowe, deputy director of the Department of Social Welfare, said the Day of the African Child is commemorated on June 16 every year by AU member countries.
He said the day was first set aside to recall the 1976 uprising in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa during the apartheid regime against apartheid-inspired education resulted in brutal and deadly repression of the unarmed child protesters leading to the death and injury of many of them.
He said this year the AU theme for the commemoration of the DAC is: “Eliminating Harmful Social and cultural practices affecting children: our collective responsibility”, out of which The Gambia has teased out “Early Marriage and its consequences” as a national focus during the commemoration of the DAC this year.
He said this year’s national celebration will take place at Farafenni town North Bank Region.
He also said the ultimate aim of these programmes is to raise awareness on the causes and harmful effects of early marriage such as health implications, education and development consequences.
Speaking on the occasion, British High Commissioner to The Gambia David Morley said they are equally committed to demonstrating their support in the elimination of harmful practice. For his part, Salifu Jassey, UNICEF representative at the briefing, said marriage before the age of 18 is a reality for many young girls.
Noting that UNICEF worldwide estimates over 64 million women age 20-24 were married in union before the age of 18.
He said research has suggested that many factors interact to place a child at risk of marriage, which include poverty, protection of girls, family honour and others.
For her part, Fanta Sidibeh, youth coordinator, said the practice of early marriage gives no such cause for celebration.
All too often, she noted, the imposition of a married partner upon a child means that a girl or boy’s childhood is cut short and their fundamental rights are compromised.