In an interview with The Standard yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel where dozens of young people from across the country gathered to learn about the harmful effects of FGM and social media campaign, she said: “I think the government needs to criminalise FGM in The Gambia and I also think we need to change our approach when it comes to advocating against the practice. For decades now, there has been a lot of organisations in the country that are advocating against FGM and working on the issue but numbers have not decreased that much. I think the young people are where the difference is because the focus has been on the older generation. When you focus on the young people, they are the new generation. The government should focus on the young people and educate them because our young people are smart and knowledgeable.
“Girls can decide not to have their daughters go through FGM. They can go back to their communities and educate people and let them know what they have learnt here. That is why we are focused on the youth and together with the government and all other NGOs, we can come up with a plan. I know Gamcotrap has been doing an amazing job and they are partners in this event but I think we also need to shift our attention and be more youth-focused because they are the future. If we cannot end FGM on the past generations, we can focus on the present generation that have undergone FGM and focus on the ones that we should protect from going through this practice.”
The 24-year old who founded Safe Hands for Girls and serves as an adviser to the Obama administration on FGM added: “One thing I want to say is that we are not here to challenge the government, we’re here to complement the work they are doing and we want them to know that we want to work in partnership with them. This is a collaborative effort and if they don’t help us, we can’t achieve what we want. We are here to support and to drive the conversation that FGM is harmful and I think we need to work together with the government and members of the parliament. I am here until October 20 and I am thinking about extending my trip past that if I need to because I really want to meet with members of the National Assembly of The Gambia. I also do want to meet with the head of state and I do want to meet with everybody that I need to meet with to make sure that we start that process of criminalising FGM. If I have to stay in The Gambia for six months, a year, I’m going do that to make sure that I continue working with the youth and continue what I have started. Because this means a lot to me and I think we can do it if we keep up the momentum. We need to both empower and enlighten ourselves about the issue.”]]>