The office of the Women’s Bureau, under the Office of the Vice President, recently held series of community outreach sensitisation meetings for women leaders on the anti-FGM law in Essau and Njaba Kunda, both in the North Bank Region.
The sensitisation is supported by the United Nations Fund for Population Affairs (UNFPA). The activities were part of the UNFPA’s efforts to help build the capacity of women leaders on the revised Women’s Act 2015, which strongly prohibits the practice of FGM in The Gambia.
Speaking at the meetings, Sainey Cham, the Bureau’s monitoring and evaluation officer, thanked President Jammeh for the pronouncement of a ban on FGM in the country and the subsequent enactment into law. He noted that the anti-FGM law sensitisation would contribute immensely to creating awareness on the negative effects of the practice and the legal ramifications for those found guilty of the practice.
Cham reminded that the law strongly recommends for legal action against anyone found guilty of practising it. He noted that the revised Women’s Act 2015 stated that anyone found guilty of the practise would be liable to a fine of D50, 000 or in default serve three years imprisonment or both. He therefore called on women leaders to be steadfast and proactive in creating public awareness on the law.
Mr. Cham thanked the UNFPA for what he described as their invaluable support to the Bureau, noting that the sensitisation would protect women and girls and by extension empower them to champion the anti-FGM campaign.
He further stated that the Women’s Bureau is mandated to popularise the FGM law with the view to ensuring that stakeholders, regional authorities and badge messengers remain vibrant in disseminating the messages.
Fatou Sonko, the Bureau’s focal person in the region, who doubles as the lady councillor for Lower Nuimi, thanked women in the area for their support to the Bureau in advancing women welfare and empowerment. She stressed that creating public awareness on the anti-FGM law among women would contribute to protecting lives and improve reproductive health of women and girls.
Chief Fabakary Nana Sonko of Lower Nuimi thanked the UNFPA and the Women’s Bureau for the initiative and assured the district authorities’ support to the implementation of the law. He used the opportunity to call on people to maintain peace and stability in advancing national development.
Fatou Camara, the senior programme officer of the Reproductive and Child Health Unit at the Ministry of Health also called on parents to desist from the practice, noting that it affects the reproductive health of women and girls and can lead to serious health complications. She lauded the Bureau in complementing the Ministry of Health’s efforts in promoting the health status of women and girls.
Alhaji Masanneh Camara, a member of the Council of Elders of Essau and Njie Duno, the lady councillor of Central Baddibou both thanked the Bureau for their steadfastness in creating public awareness on the anti-FGM law and enjoined others to enforce the law.
by Jainaba D Jatta