The Young People in the Media (YPM) in collaboration with The Girls Generation and stakeholders in empowerment of the girl child has recently organized a day long All Girls Conference on FGM and Gender-Based Violence at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Senegambia.
The objective of the conference is to bring duty bearers within the communities from all over the country and young girls to have an open dialogue on the progress made regarding the law on gender-based violence related to girls and women and progress made on banning FGM and what changes it has brought in the mindset of young girls and community leaders, parents, survivors and stakeholders with the theme ‘ending all forms of GBV and empowering girls to take the lead in nation building’.
Fatima Gomez, head girl of St Therese’s Upper Basic School, who also doubles as the chairperson of the program, said the conference is to empower young girls to be strong and to resist any outside influence that might have a negative impact on their lives.
Kaddijatou Fofana , the Deputy Executive Coordinator YPM, said: “In an effort to protect the health and rights of young women and girls, in December 2015 The Gambia joined 26 other African countries that have banned FGM through legislation. YPM in its commitment to protect the reproductive health and rights of children especially the girls, will continue to support social mobilization efforts on the harmful effects of gender based violence and FGM as well as popularizing the anti FGM laws throughout the Gambia in engaging all the actors. A total abandonment will be ensured using this approach.”
She added that FGM has a barrier to girl’s education, as young girls drop out from school to get married which impacts negatively on the community as a whole and on the well-being of future generations, Ms Fofana noted.
Modou Lamin Davies, Chairperson of the Youth Anti FGM Network- The Gambia, representing the Program Officer for the Girl Generation, Musu Bakoto Sawo Ceesay, said: “The girl generation is very proud beyond measure to be associated with YPM, a very vibrant youth-led organization.”
He noted that YPM continues to serve as an emblem of activism and volunteerism and has contributed in no small part in chiselling in child participation and empowerment of young girls in the country.
He added that TGG will continue to partner with relevant stakeholders in the implementation of its program of activities in the fight against FGM.
Madam Fanta Bai Secka, Director Department of Social Welfare, who served as the keynote speaker noted that gender base violence issues in the country are huge and need a systematic approach that is effectuated and functional with adequate resources both human and financial.
Mrs. Bai Secka hailed the efforts of YPM for amplifying these issues on their weekly radio program which captures positive intervention stories and highlights the challenges faced by girls, families and communities at large.
She urged YPM to keep the good work hence no contribution is small to end GBV, especially FGM and child marriage.
The Girls Conference ended with an empowerment forum that brought together successful young women to interact and inspire young girls on how to come up with positive actions and plans to end gender-based violence and FGM in a generation.