The sensitisation started with reaching out to the community radio stations as well as the private radio stations. They were engaged in rights education. Gamcotrap team of experts started the 16 Days of Activism by participating in the EU/UN panel on Violence Against Women. The executive director presented a paper on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and noted that, it is crucial that we treat every day as a day to eliminate violence against women in order to uphold women and children’s rights and to protect the nation’s greatest resource; in order for gender equality to be meaningful. She asserted that, “We must do so in the name of acquiring human rights for everyone and in the name of sustainable development for The Gambia. I urge all of us to commit ourselves to a revolution. My revolution is, until FGM ends, I will continue to raise my voice and raise awareness about the harmful effects of FGM. FGM is a violation of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girl-children.”
During the panel discussions on different radio stations the focus was on creating awareness on the level of implementation of the existing laws that The Gambia has passed with regard to promoting the rights of Women and girl-children in The Gambia. It was observed that female genital mutilation was removed from the proposed bills before they were enacted into laws; leaving girls and women vulnerable to the practice. Thus it requires the state to legislate a specific law to protect the girl-child from FGM. On the laws that have been passed, it was also observed that their state of implementation were not impressive. There is need to create awareness of the existing laws and their provisions to the population.
Gamcotrap continued its advocacy to the communities who are in most cases neglected because of distance, bad roads resulting to their social exclusion. The 16 Days of Activism also focused on community sensitisation and awareness creation on the effects of FGM on the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of women and the girl child. The team of women’s rights activists focused the campaign on the Sabach Sanjal and Upper Baddibu districts in the North Bank Region of The Gambia.
The series of awareness creation activities targeted 180 communities, reaching to 630 participants and engaged 3 radio stations namely; North Bank Community Radio, Farafenni Community Radio and Paradise FM in the North Bank Region over the period of the 16 Days of Activism. They were sponsored under the UNFPA/Unicef joint project to sensitise the communities on women’s human rights, FGM and early marriage, etc.
In appreciation of the awareness raising and advocacy to end FGM in Upper Baddibu and Sabach Sanjal districts, various voices were echoed.
At Conteh Kunda Sukoto, a young mother said: “I am happy today because I have gained knowledge that will protect my daughter from FGM. If I did not get this information, I would have taken my child to be cut.”
While information and awareness creation is key to protect vulnerable girls from FGM, there is need for legal protection. While there is a law that prohibits FGM in neighbouring Senegal, Gamcotrap was informed that a notorious roaming circumciser by the name Amie Jallow from Senegal comes to Baddibu and in parts of the Kombos to perform FGM on girls. This should be a concern to the Gambian authorities because The Gambia has committed itself to raise awareness and to put legislation in place to protect girls and women from FGM as stated in the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, which was incorporated in the Women’s Act 2010 of The Gambia. The engagement of this notorious circumciser with Gambian communities is giving The Gambia a bad image. Gambian circumcisers who have abandoned the practice of FGM are complaining and it is consoling that the communities are not welcoming her after they have been empowered with the right information.
Meanwhile, Gamcotrap launched a series of radio programmes on Brikama Community Radio and Star FM to raise awareness on effective participation on women in leadership and decision-making funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) during the 16 Days of Activism.
As a prelude to the 2015 One Billion Rising Revolution (OBR), Gamcotrap is working closely with communities to end violence against women and the public is urged to join this event and make commitment to ending violence against women a reality. One of the veteran circumcisers in Upper Baddibu, Mba Fatou Dampha has promised to host Gamcotrap to support the efforts to end FGM in her cluster communities, a manifestation that people are ready to show their support to the campaign to end FGM in the region.
Gamcotrap wishes the entire Gambian population a successful advocacy during the 16 Days of Activism to end Violence Against Women.]]>