By Halimatou Ceesay
Visionary Youth, the Gambia on Saturday during the weekend, held a one day dialogue session on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Advocacy with community and social workers at the Regional Education Directorate in West Coast Region.
Speaking at the Opening Isatou Bah Project Manager Visionary Youth, The Gambia (VYGA) said VYGA is a youth led organization for proactive youth engagement particularly on empowerment and social vices with specific focus in complementing the National Youth Policy and the National Development Plan. She said with funding from the Girl Generation, Visionary Youth, the Gambia (VYGA) was able to implement six month project that addresses issues on FGM/C targeting community change agents.
She added that the project has its first implementation with ‘out of school youths’ in Brufut in March 2018 as the first activity they had. She said that was a successful training which was conducted and this being the second activity they hope that the aim will be achieved.
She stated that social and community workers are change agents therefore their role in the fight against FGM is very crucial. She said the group’s representation is highly relevant due to their involvement in community work, sensitization, and advocacy to which FGM is not an exception. Bah further stated that as the project focuses on addressing issues on FGM, it therefore stands out to protecting the sexual reproductive health and rights of the girl child. She said FGM is an age old traditional practice that is proven to be harmful on the health and welfare of the girl child.
Representing Governor of West Coast Region Momodou Keita said “It is indeed gratifying to note that you have conducted other activities for the community of Brufut all geared to ending FGM in the Gambia. The harmful effects of FGM are numerous and it is therefore necessary for communities and social workers to be trained and sensitize so as to help in the fight to end FGM in West Coast Region and the Gambia at large.”
He said the conduct of the training is fitting and timely in the sense that there are so many communities who still practice FGM and therefore it will make a change against the ill treatment meted against girls and women. He said they have seen and heard about lot of violence against their sisters and daughters in their homes and communities and very little is been done against it. He said therefore the trend should not continue as it is a violation of their rights.
“It is against this backdrop that the Gambia Government has been involve in the ratification of various conventions, protocols, resolutions, and legal frameworks just to empower our women and discourage all harmful practices against them. It is therefore important that we came together to safeguard the integrity, rights and dignity of our girls and women,” he said.
Momodou G. Jallow Regional Education Director for West Coast Region said education is the most powerful tool and it is able to surmount all human challenges. He said young people are very key in uprooting such harmful traditional practices like FGM. He said therefore it is fitting to capacitate young people so that they will be able to do their work effectively
“Those of us who may read Islam will agree that before the advent of Islam women suffered a lot. In those days it was a shame for one to have a girl child and girls were buried alive but through education all those things were surmounted. So therefore the use of education and the use of young men through messages is a right methods,” he said.