Source: allAfrica

The Young People in the Media (YPM), in collaboration with the Girls Generation and stakeholders in the empowerment of the girl child, yesterday organised a daylong All Girls Conference on FGM and Gender-Based Violence, held at the Paradise Conference Hall.

The conference theme was "Ending all forms of GBV and empowering girls to take the lead in nation building."

The objective of the All Girls Conference was to bring duty bearers within the communities from all over the country and young girls for them to have an open dialogue on the progress made regarding the law on gender-based violence related to girls and women and progress made on banning FGM.

It was also looking at what changes it has brought in the mindset of young girls and community leaders, parents, survivors and stakeholders.

Miss Fatima Gomez, head girl of St Theresa's Upper Basic School, who also doubles as member of YPM and the chairperson of the programme, said the conference was to empower young girls to be strong and to resist any outside influence that might have a negative impact on their lives.

Ms Kaddijatou Fofana, deputy Executive Coordinator of YPM, said in an effort to protect the health and rights of young women and girls, in December 2015, The Gambia joined 26 other African countries that have banned FGM through legislation.

"YPM in its commitment to protect the reproductive health and rights of children, especially the girls, will continue to support social mobilisation efforts on the harmful effects of gender-based violence and FGM as well as popularising the anti-FGM laws throughout The Gambia in engaging all the actors. A total abandonment will be ensured using this approach," she said.

She added that FGM has a barrier to girls' education, as young girls drop out from school to get married which impacts negatively on the community as a whole and on the wellbeing of future generations.

Modou Lamin Davies, Chairperson of the Youth Anti-FGM Network- The Gambia, said the girl generation was proud to be associated with YPM, a very vibrant child-led organisation.

He said that YPM continues to serve as an emblem of activism and volunteerism and has contributed in no small part in chiselling child participation and empowerment of young girls in the country.

He added that TGG would continue to partner with relevant stakeholders in the implementation of its programme of activities in the fight against FGM.

Madam Fanta Bai Secka, Director of the Department of Social Welfare, said gender-based violence issues in the country are huge and need a systematic approach that is effectuated and functional with adequate resources both human and financial.

She said that policies, laws and standards needs to be reviewed to strengthen on continuous basis as most GBV issues are related to some of their cultural and traditional beliefs which are not static.

Madam Bai Secka further dwelled on the importance of good Gambia cultural and traditional beliefs that must be promoted for the good of society and girls to take a centre stage in fostering such.

She said the importance of girls to go through the right passage should and must be encouraged in impacting positive cultural and traditional knowledge and life skills of girls to prepare positively for an ever changing world which is very challenging for their development and effective participation.

Mrs Bai Secka salutes the efforts of YPM for amplifying these issues on their weekly radio programme which captures positive interventions stories and highlight the challenges faced by girls, families and communities at large.

She commended YPM to keep up the good work, hence no contribution is small to end GBV, especially FGM and Child Marriage.

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