By Olimatou Coker
Mariama Jallow, Saama Kairo Federation, has said early marriage is common during the Covid-19 period with most of “our parents using it to get their girls married off.”
Jallow made these remarks recently at a virtual international dialogue in commemoration of the international day of the Girl Child on the topic “the impact of Covid-19 on girls”.
Day of the girl child 2020 amplifies the voice and rights of girls everywhere. The theme for this year’s commemoration was “my voice, our equal future” reigniting a better world inspired and led by adolescent girls as part of the global generation equality movement.
She spoke on education and the cause of school dropouts while noting the importance of educating a girl child.
“Most of our parents use this pandemic to their advantage to get their girl child married off which led to school dropout. These are some of the issues affecting girls’ education but there are lots more. Therefore, I will recommend to the ChildFund, UNICEF, the government of The Gambia, non-government institutions, MoBSE, CPA, and the MoH to take this issue as a high priority”, she stated.
Lamin Fatty, national coordinator of CPA, said human rights is an issue of accountability. He stated that having laws alone is not enough.
Fatty said Covid-19 has created so many negative impacts but also positive opportunities that people can work on addressing issues of children particularly the girl child.
According to him, the pandemic has affected everybody but it affected the girl child the most.
“There has been a lot of discrimination against the girl child in The Gambia,” Fatty highlighted.
He urged the government to invest in children in the country.
Also speaking, Rohey Bittaye Darboe, permanent secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said the issue of GBV is really a challenge in the country.
She added that the 1313 hotline was launched during the pandemic to report any form of sexual or gender-based violence.
Essa Sowe, Deputy Secretary-General GTU, said records are showing that 25% of girls are dropping out of school.
“Covid-19 has limited the participation of girls in the recently concluded distance learning due to domestic choice”, he added.
For her part, Musu Kuta Komma-Bah, Country Director Childfund, stated that girls have the potential to change the world both as empowered girls today and as of tomorrow workers, mothers and thus contribute to gross domestic products (GDPs) of various countries.