SOURCE: All Africa
Siaka Marong, the assistant director of Women's Bureau asserted the Gambia's commitment to end violence against women and girls, which are evident by the ratification of a number of important instruments with the provision concerning violence against women and girls.

He made this remark at a five-day Media Campaign Academy training, organised by the Guardian, in partnership with Safe Hands for Girls and UNFPA, for journalists and young activists from all regions in The Gambia on the latest media tools and techniques they can use to spread their message further, and faster through the media.

According to the organisers, the training is important because Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still prevalent in The Gambia. Government efforts to bring an end to the practice have been included in the recently adopted National Action Plan on FGM 2013-2017, which focuses on accelerating the abandonment of FGM. The campaign against FGM is not for one institution alone but a campaign for all women and protectors of girls' rights.

Marong told the participants that people can change culture through awareness. Thus, he informed that since 2010, the Gambia has enacted key legislations developed policies and programmes to protect women and girls from all forms of violence and positively influence societal attitudes and practices, which engender the abuse and violence.
The Women's Bureau assistant director said the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Office of the President, have the firm belief that with education comes empowerment and in order to create a society free from discriminatory stereotype, there has to be formulated laws and policies that are designed to protect all particularly women and girls.

Marong encouraged the organisers to continue educating the masses on the negative impact of some of the cultural and traditional practices in The Gambia.

He buttressed that to end all violence against women and girls, they must continue to enlighten both men and women to change gender stereotypes, attitudes and beliefs that condone violence and harmful practices.

Baboucarr Kebbeh, the representative of NYC, said they are aware that no country can achieve its full potential, socially or economically when 60% of their populations are held back by ignorance and burden of FGM among other violence against women. Therefore ending FGM, he noted, can be a catalyst for change.

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