In its bid to sensitise grassroots stakeholders on the 2015 amended Women’s Act, which criminalises the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) in The Gambia, the Women’s Bureau last week held a two-day forum for the people of the Central River Region. It was sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and was held in Janjangbureh, the administrative capital of CRR.
The forum was part of the Bureau’s nationwide activity designed to reach out to stakeholders especially those at the grassroots with the objective to expose and inform them about the content and the context of the Act prohibiting the traditional practice in The Gambia.
It brought together the region’s local authorities, Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members, and women leaders.
In his opening remarks, the regional Governor, Alhaji Omar Khan, highlighted the importance of the forum saying it will go a long way towards increasing awareness of our traditional rulers, women leaders and members of the Technical Advisory Committee on the said Act. He described FGM/C as a deeply entrenched traditional practice that threatens the lives of women and girls.
He further asserted that President Jammeh has placed women empowerment very high on his development agenda, noting that as a result, he made a pronouncement ending the practice in the country as well as a follow-up legislative that criminalises it.
He pointed out that since FGM has been abolished in The Gambia, it should therefore not be practiced in the country, thus calling on the participants to disseminate what have been assimilated during the cause of the sensitisation period.
The Director of Training at the Women’s Bureau Fatou Sey, said the aim of the forum was to spread the messages of the Women’s Act and the anti-FGM laws at the grassroots level. She said all forms of FGM/C degrade women and girls and deprive them of their basic human rights. She said the government of The Gambia is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls.
The Women’s Bureau Regional Programme Officer for the Central River Region, Lawa Drammeh-Sarr, commended the UNFPA for what she described as complementing government’s efforts by sponsoring this important forum at the grassroots.
She noted that the sensitisation will immensely raise the awareness of the citizenry on the health implications of the practice of FGM/C.
by Lamin SM Jawo in CRR