By MUHAMMED .S. BAH
The Girls’ Agenda network started a 4day training on Gender Based violence with various Madrassas, Quarnic Schools, in the West Coast Region on Thursday 14 July, 2016, and went on up to Sunday 17 July, 2016, at the Regional Education Directorate in Brikama.
This training was funded by the United Nations Population and assisted by the National Youth Council (NYC).
The madrassa engagement is a process of building and advocacy activity not only meant to inform the participants about gender-based violence, but also to break the culture of silence and fear of intervention in these marginalized institutions. We believe that eradicating gender based violence in the Gambia is a collective responsibility and all the young people deserve to be engaged to protect and empower them not to be perpetrators, as well as to encourage them to add their voices against discrimination of all forms.
In her statement, Fatou Kinteh, the national program officer and gender, UNFPA, said UNFPA is fighting for human rights and the reason for the forum was to talk about the injustice done to our youth, particularly girls, who are vulnerable to practices such as child marriage, FGM and GBV.
“We are currently working with the education department to ensure that we re-introduce POP/FLE in our conventional schools and madrassas.”
In her remarks, Oumie Suso, the program coordinator of The Girls’ Agenda, said the training was to build the capacity of the madrassa students on gender- based violence and to spread the information so that it would uplift the young people to partake in national development.
The training would be centered on how to help the girl-child and the young people in order to prevent them from violence that is affecting them in their homes, streets, work places, schools.
“The training would last for four days and would deal with many issues affecting both boys and girls. Girls are mostly affected by child marriage, teenage pregnancy and gender- based violence and facilitators responsible for the training are well-known and have vast knowledge in the area of the training.”
Alagie Jarju, Program manager of the national youth council, said the training was very important and timely and their work as the national youth council is to stand for the young people and many of them did not know that it is their mandate to know the council. He informed the participants that the NYC was established by the government in 2000. The establishment of the council is meant to serve as an intermediary between the young people and the government and to sensitize them on the aims of the government and their development projects.
“We see that most youths are not exposed to this type of forums or training, but the aim of the national youth council is to listen to what they say and not to decide for them. In doing so they will tell us what they want us to do for them, that’s why we have decided to call on the madrassa students, adding that here is not a class where a teacher will say something and you repeat after him, but to discuss issues affecting us.”
He added: “We are not here to learn and keep it within ourselves; let us be ambassadors who will disseminate the knowledge gained to your peers, schools, homes and even in the communities. I thank UNFPA for funding the madrassa engagement project on Gender Based-Violence”.
Oustast Musa Jaiteh, principal of madrassa Al Tawfihkh, speaking on the importance of involvement of madrassa students in youth development initiative, said they are not used to this type of programs but that most of their teachers are invited to this kind of forums.
He added: “we should all seek knowledge no matter what because it is very important as future leaders we should try by all means to learn and be ready to listen to each other.”