By Fatoumatta K. Jallow
The Girls Agenda, a young women led organization that promotes the
respect and protection of the human rights and advancement of women
and girls, on Friday, 16 October, 2015 held an awareness raising
school outreach for young people.
Ida Jatta, Program Officer at Girl’s Agenda, said the Gambia isgrowing almost in every facet of life but that more needs to be done
to decently accommodate the girl child in this growth plane.
She lamented that inspite of several policy pronouncements, legal
frameworks and sensitization programmes on harmful traditional
practices, the country continues to be stuck in the shackles of social
Ms. Jatta cited child marriage is one of them, adding that this is a
deep- rooted and widespread harmful traditional practice that robs
girls of their education, health and future. “Every year there are 15
million child brides. And statistics show that 40% of girls across
Africa are married before their 18th birthday,” she said according to
UNICEF projections.” The Girl’s Agenda Program Officer said the number of child bride’s in
the region is expected to double by 2050. The Gambia, she said, might
not be in the bracket of 20 hot spots but the national statistics
reveal an unacceptable scenario.
“The results of the 2010 multiple indicator cluster survey shows that
8.6 percent of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years were married or are in
union before their 15 birthday while 46.5 percent were married or in
union before they turn 18 years,” she added. She described this as
pathetic and the effects are for all to bear particularly the girl
“Child marriage is often instigated by poverty, lack of education,
gender stereotyping, discrimination and negative cultural practices,
denying girls the right to live healthy and fulfilling lives,” the
Girl’s Agenda Program Officer concluded.
Alasana Gitteh, a member of Girls Agenda, defined early or child
marriage as marriage before the age of 18 and this applies to both
boys and girls, but the practice commonly affect young girls. “Early
marriage is one of the most harmful practices as it usually denies
girls educational opportunities, leads to poverty, economic insecurity
and has a serious negative impact on their health and decision making
capacities. It also reinforces other forms of gender –
based violence and problems,” he said.
By Fatoumatta K. Jallow