The Girls’ Agenda Observes International Youth Day

The Girls’ Agenda joins the international community today to celebrate the International Youth Day 2015 under the theme “Youth Civic Engagement.” International Youth Day is celebrated each year on August 12th since the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to celebrate the day in 1999 and the first celebration was held in 2000. Since then, young people and people working with and for youths around the world celebrate the day each year in order to recognize the contributions of young people in global development and promoting their active engagement in the positive development of their communities. The theme of this year’s celebration seeks to promote young people’s effective and inclusive civic engagement at all levels. Although young people make up one sixth of the world’s population, yet the opportunities for them to engage politically, economically and socially are low or sometimes non-existent. Therefore, it is crucial for youths’ active engagement and participation in order for sustainable human development to be realized.
Because of the low participation of youths in public life, greater efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to people and society. As a youth led movement established by the young and for the young, The Girls’ Agenda joins the rest of the world to celebrate the day. As part of the celebration, we will engage in an online advocacy and media publicity to campaign and advocate for the active participation of youths in political and public life. The Girls’ Agenda believes that to unleash young people’s potentials, their active and effective participation in issues that affect their lives is essential. This will contribute in ensuring young people’s full empowerment and bring their meaningful contribution to society and development to light. Realizing that youth participation and engagement is crucial for sustainable development to be achieved, The Girls’ Agenda in partnership with For My Sister, a women rights organization in the United States in this August will  host a youth empowerment camp focusing on female genital mutilation, early and forced marriages, comprehensive sexuality education and related matters. The four days camp will be held in two phases for 50 young people between the ages of 14-25 in the West Coast Region of The Gambia. The first phase will be held from the 20th to 23rd August while the second phase will begin on the 27th to 30th August, 2015 at the Global Hands Youth Development Hub in Manduar.
Because of The Gambia’s deeply patriarchal nature and unequal economic, educational and political opportunities, women and girls continue to be deprived from the full enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. Consequently, FGM and other harmful traditional practices continue to be a serious violation to the bodily integrity, reproductive health and sexual rights of girls and women in the country.
The lack of a specific anti-FGM law further complicates its eradication thus putting many more girls at risk while others are already living with complications on their reproductive health and integrity. Thus The Girls’ Agenda and For My Sister believe that there is no better time for youth-led movements in The Gambia to revolutionize the demand for the respect and protection of the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls than now. This camp therefore, will serve as a civic platform to learn about and discuss potential intervention strategies to combat FGM and other related challenges specific to young women and girls. The camp will help raise awareness of young people 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.