By Fatoumatta K Jallow
The Girls’ Agenda on Saturday 28th September 2017, held a national convening for Women councilors on the enforcement of the law against female genital mutilation at a local hotel in Bijilo.
The Convening brought together 52 women councilors from all the regions across the country and it was held under the theme, ‘amplifying the voice of grassroots women leaders to end FGM in the Gambia’.
Isatou Jeng Program Manager TGA said the law came into being two years ago in December 2015 but FGM is still practise in the country and we deem it necessary to organize a national convening for women councilors across the country because they play very critical role in making sure that the anti FGM law is effectively enforced.
“They are elected women leaders, they served as the advisers to the Government on women issues, they serve as advisers to women’s bureau in implementing issues and policies on women and girls in the Gambia, we thought it is important to bring them on board, have a dialogue with them so that they can go back to the constituency they represent, disseminate the information and educate the people on the negative implication of FGM as well as the presence of the law to emphasise to the people that the law against FGM is still here and it is going to stay, and if anyone goes into conflict with the law, the law would take its cause.”
Haddy Mboge Barrow, Coordinator Network Against Gender Base Violence (NAGBV) said: “Female Genital Mutilation has been a long cultural practice over three hundred years and some people base it on the argument that it is a religious requirement especially Islamic, but research by the Network against gender Base violence conducted in November, indicates that many women said FGM is related to cleanliness of women, ensuring that women are respected but many women in that research clearly made mention that they would have love to abandon FGM but they think the power to end FGM doesn’t lie in their hands alone.
“They felt that this lies in the hands of their husbands meaning Gambia is a male dominated society, they also felt that mother’s in-law has a role to ensure that FGM is banned. “We also shared with them the research conducted by the Network against gender based violence, that is the outcome of FGM which clearly shows that there is a relationship between FGM and duration of labor, FGM and Operation of women, FGM and difficulty of breathing of a newly born baby because of delayed labor.
The research clearly shows that they have a core relation, we made that clear to them as powerful women, as decision makers so that they make sure that they create awareness.
Jonfolo Jabbie Vice Chairperson, National Women Council said despite calls by right activist for a systemic cultural shift to end the harmful cultural practice, FGM/C is still prevalent and quietly practiced in many homes. She called on women leaders to be vigilant and resolute in the fight against a global challenge harming young girls.
Fatou Kinteh National Program Officer at UNFPA said the continuous practice of female genital mutilation demonstrates some of the most intractable problems Gambia face in trying to change the future of girls.