FAWEGAM Women Conference

   Amie Sillah

  Presidents of Mothers’ Clubs throughout the country were invited to a Conference to discuss issues affecting women and girls FAWEGAM Women Conferenceon Friday 26th February 2016 at a local hotel.

The Conference was supported by the British Embassy represented by Ambassador Colin Crockin who made a statement.
He commended FAWEGAM and the Presidents of its Mothers’ Clubs throughout the country for gracing the occasion.   “Learn from each other’s experience to enrich yourself and spread the information gained for empowerment. The British Embassy is always proud to partner with FAWEGAM for such useful ventures,” the Ambassador said.
The occasion was also graced by officials from Education Ministry, FAWEGAM Executives and other stakeholders.
Panelists: “Social Protection for Women in the Gambia Opportunities and Challenges” by Mrs. Fanta Bai Secka, Director of Department of Social Welfare;
Gender Violence and how it affects Women” by Mrs. Haddy Mboge, Coordinator Network of Gender Violence; “Reproductive Health” by Dr. Hassan Azadeh, Gynaecologist Medicare Clinic; “Legal provisions, the protection of Women” by Neene Cham, Legal advocate for Women/children and former President FLAG.
Amie Sillah a Gender/Political Activist and Foroyaa Columnist chaired the Women’s Conference while Mrs. Yadicone Njie Eribo, FAWEGAM Coordinator gave the welcome remarks, Mrs. Isatou Jallow FAWEGAM Treasurer deputized for FAWEGAM Chair, Mrs. Beatrice Prom Mboge and read her statement, Mrs. Saffiatou Savage Sidibeh, Senior Programme Officer FAWEGAM gave the vote of thanks.
The Deliberations: Mrs. Haddy Mboge outlined the types of violence.

Physical as in battering to cause actual bodily harm, death or maiming;
Sexual: As in rape, sexual assault, incest etc.; the effects are grave causing health problems such as STIs, mortality;
Psychological: As in verbal abuse, stressful relationship; which causes mental depression, etc.
Economical: Denying support of spouse and children, preventing career path or denying spouse not to work and earn a living;
Emotional: Stressful relationship leading to nervous wreck or mental break down;
She described Gender Based Violence as the tormentor/perpetrator perpetuating one or many of these forms on the tormented due to unequal power relations.
Solutions: She lauded the intervention of the stakeholders by creating a One Stop Shop which is multisectoral and free of charge, where survivors can go and get their problems solved. One such facility can be found in Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul.  She said survivors can be directed to services to cater for their needs. She announced that since the creation of such facilities more young people are breaking the culture of silence but not the adults, she appealed to the latter to follow suit.
She also called for more sensitization using all forms of media to reach the population.
She applauded the enactment of laws such as the Domestic Violence Act, Women’s Act, Children’s Act, etc. and the recent ban on FGM. Such laws are shifting the balance and making women/girls demand for their rights.
 Mrs. Fanta Bai Secka: she expounded on Social Protection which is an opportunity to be exploited and described it as nothing new but reinforcing our indigenous support system and ensuring it reach the vulnerable groups of society such as elderly, women, children and people living with disability.
She said Government is working on Policy and Programme to achieve this aim.
She said Climate Change affects progress registered in this area as well as short term intervention strategies, emergency preparedness, social benefits for the informal sectors as well as unemployment benefits to the most vulnerable of society and maternity benefits are also not universal;
Successes she highlighted the eradication of the phenomena of ‘Talibe’ Street Children Beggars that Money Transfer given to ‘Daaras’ local koranic schools. Decentralization of Steering Committees as well as UN Social Protection SDGs, AU Agenda 2063, Government interventions in Education, Health etc.
Reproductive Health, and Dr. Azadeh defined Health using the WHO Definition: A state of Physical, Mental, Emotional, Economical and Social Wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease.
He spoke on Safe Sex through the use of condom, abstinence for the young and to avoid promiscuity which make women/girls vulnerable to STIs, abortion/death.
Men are also vulnerable to STIs. (Sexually Transmitted Illnesses).
He asked parents/guardians to instill discipline through sensitization for the youth to know about Reproductive Health; also to make services available, affordable and accessible to all citizens.
He spoke about the ills of society such as Teenage Pregnancy which he described as disaster and how young lives are being lost through illegal street abortions or during birth. He said worldwide about a million of young lives lost through illegal abortions.
On Menopause: He said that more sensitization should be done on Pre-Menopause, Menopause and Post Menopause:
Pre-Menopause – This occurs wt the age of 40 – 50 years when changes in the female hormones are taking place and it can cause discomfort especially in FGM Survivors;
 Menopause: this occurs at the age 50 – 60 years when changes mature and the woman’s libido diminishes and she is disinterested in sex. Problems starts to surface in marriages as husbands complain that their spouses are refusing them sex and it becomes a great source of conflict especially in FGM Survivors;
Post-Menopause 60 upwards the symptoms multiply.
But there is good news and spouses should be sensitized to seek for medical solutions which are available and also to go for counseling.
Solutions: He said sex education is required for the young to understand their sexuality and for responsible living; he intimated that the contraction of STIs among the youth is at an alarming rate of 20 persons a day;
Polygamy: He called for Responsible living among the spouses to avoid re -infecting each other;
He applauded the ban on FGM which will reduce its many complications;
He advised that the youth at puberty 9-14 years should have the cervical cancer injection to give them maximum protection of 95% success;
He encouraged women to go for the Smear Test to prevent Cervical Cancer; He said 95% of Africans are affected. He noted that it is preventable and checkups should be done every 2 years. Such checks he said are harmless and painless and the test is free of charge in Government clinics. After 9-14 years the protection aspect diminishes to 65% protection.
 Menopause treatment: Female hormones are used and herbal treatment available at the health facilities.
Dr. Azadeh can be reached through calls/text free of charge to answer your questions on Reproductive Health and where to find the services: 7774469; 3774469; E-mail: azadehhassan@yahoo.co.uk
Website: drazadeh.blogspot.com