The Girls’ Agenda, a young women’s led organization in The Gambia that champions the rights and wellbeing of girls and women will host a five days empowerment camp for girls. The camp, funded by UNICEF will target fifty (50) young women between the ages of 14 and 24 in the West Coast Region. The empowerment camp is on the theme Progress for Adolescent Girls Require the Guarantee of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, and will be held from the 10th to 14th February, 2017 at the Child Fund Lodge in Bwiam.
The five days intensive camp will focus on issues that affect the young women’s well-being which includes their right to bodily integrity, progress, liberty and freedom. The empowerment forum will cover an intensive introduction to comprehensive sexuality education, life skills including leadership skills learning, education and mentorship for girls, harmful traditional practices (with a focus on early marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting), sexual violence and related matters.
Female genital mutilation and child marriage remain some of the most pervasive human rights violations that undermine girls’ well-being, bodily integrity, an opportunity to education and self-reliance. In Africa alone, millions of girls are at risk of undergoing these harmful practices because of a patriarchal culture that controls women’s sexuality and bodies. Although The Gambia recently created a law that prohibits FGM, its widespread acceptance obviously will lead to the secret performance of the act on minors many women’s rights organizations observed. Therefore, The Girls’ Agenda feel that behaviour change towards FGM and all other forms of degrading treatments should be a combination of social denouncement and a legal approach. To achieve this, there is no better and sustainable approach than teaching and engaging young people to lead the change that will end inequality, discrimination and degrading treatment of women and girls. With this camp, we hope to revolutionize the demand for the respect and protection of the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls, fight to end disparities in education, build healthier and empowered adolescent girls and the eradication of harmful traditional practices in our communities. The camp will help raise awareness of young women about the factors responsible for the perpetuation of FGM, clarify misconceptions that support the practice, show them the evidences/consequences of FGM (which are often kept as secrets or misinterpreted) and prepare them to become change agents through organizing, lobbying and advocacy skills. We hope that this camp will empower the girls- both socially and politically and enable them use their voices and work towards ending FGM and related discriminated practices in our generation. We believe that the world will become a better and progressive place if girls are able to speak for themselves to end violence and inequality in every home and community.
The Girls’ Agenda Team