The Gambia has recently celebrated World Population Day marked by a ceremony held at the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) ground.
The event, held on the theme “Investing in teenage girls”, was organised by the National Population Commission Secretariat in partnership with the Kanifing Municipality and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Observed on July 11 every year, World Population Day is an annual event which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. This year’s celebration took the form of march past from the Kairaba Avenue (Qcell building) to the KMC grounds were officials delivered statements.
The UNFPA country representative Kunle Adeniyi stated that for many years the governing council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that 11 July be observed by the international community as World Population Day. This he said shows the dynamism that the UN places on the world’s population.
The theme of this year’s celebration, he said, seeks to raise awareness on the plight of teenage girls around the world as it relates to greater challenges that girls encounter compared to their male counterparts.
The UNFPA country rep maintained that teenage girls around the world face a multitude of challenges as in many countries a girl after reaching puberty is deemed by families and community as ready for marriage and child birth, thus being a cause for her to leave school.
According to him, experience has shown that teenage girls without education, adequate knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and with little or no control of their body, have a little or no chance of realising their potentials as human beings.
The Gambia, he recognised is endowed with a very young population “and what we do with that population now will determine the future”.
Adama Sabally, a youth coordinator at the Kanifing Municipal Council, asserted that problems of unwanted teenage motherhood, HIV/AIDS infections and boys and girls sexual relationships are challenges that affect teenage girls in Africa.
She commended the President of the Republic for his intervention in addressing the plight of girls in the country.
Sabally extended appreciation to UNFPA and other partners for their collaboration with KMC.
The government of The Gambia, she acknowledged, has put in place policies, institutions and well-quipped people to ensure that people in the country enjoy reproductive health services, share information on what affects their lives and the lives of the girl child in particular.
Momodou Jaiteh, the Deputy Mayor of KM, read a statement on behalf of the Vice President of the Republic to mark the World Population Day 2016.
by Fatou Sowe