Guest blog by Bakary Seedy Dampha Programme Manager Kids Come First in The Gambia.
FGM is no longer a new thing in the Gambia and I’m impressed with the amount of youth involvement and engagement in ending FGM in a generation. Addressing the life threatening and global concern, the Girl Generation has currently a membership of 50 organisations in the Gambia. This pivotal role young people continue to play in advocacy and campaigning in various part of the country makes a huge difference in contributing to the voluntary abandonment of FGM in the Gambia.
Different organizations have competitive advantage over others and are utilizing those to their advantage through community engagement. In doing so, different approaches and methodologies were applied. Several other grass roots organizations like Kids Come First and others are using community based driven approach involving communities to address FGM. In another words, people are taking charge of their own future by taking steps to resolve the problems and meet the needs. When local community people recognize and become responsible for themselves and their own potential, social and economic resource development will evolve. Therefore meeting indigenous people at their community to discuss negative health and social consequences has paid dividend in the abandonment of the practices.
Youth led organizations, are also reaching out to schools within catchment areas to share with students negative consequences on the practice of FGM so as to inspire and motivate others to speak up through social change communication. It is believed that once those students are enlightened and aware, they can say NO to FGM once they become parents giving birth to the next generation. In that way we are ending FGM in a generation.
Other groups address FGM by offering free health screening to the community. FGM is a deep rooted tradition and practiced by all societies. Following the ban of FGM, this has led to wider community education on the said legal framework targeting traditional and religious leaders, women group/ community kafos and elders
For example, section 32A imposes an imprisonment of three years and/or a fine of fifty thousand Dalasis for perpetrator and life imprisonment where death has occurred as a result of the practice. Section 32B further imposes a three year jail term and/or a fine of fifty thousand Dalasis for aiding, abetting or facilitating the process of circumcision and a sum of ten thousand Dalasis for those persons that have knowledge of the of the practice, but fail to report it.
There are also intensive media campaigns and engagement where young people served as guest speakers and hosts of FGM talk shows, media briefings, intergenerational dialogue, community outreach, both campaign to gauge perception and understanding of people on the subject and data collection etc.
However, there are other significant young led groups that are still struggling with limited funding opportunities despite brilliant ideas.