Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
After the event, She She She had an interview with the Executive Director of the Women's Right NGO, Dr. Isatou Touray.
This is how it went:
She She She: We have just witnessed the second declaration on dropping of knives, can you tell the readers what were the strategies that Gamcotrap have used to convince the circumcisers.
Dr. Touray: First on the strategies, we have embraced every gender sensitive responsive, working with people in the community and understanding why FGM is practice and why women are given low status in the society and also we looked at factors that are influencing such perceptions.
We prepared our program of activities reaching out to various target groups in the communities, used the local languages discussing sexuality, women rights and violence against women.
Through these culturally relevant strategies women were able to make inform choices about FGM and they decided to stop, one of the most critical question was, what is the religious perspective of FGM. We had very progressive scholars who engaged the communities to clarified issues on FGM and Islam and when communities became aware of the realities they agreed to stop.
On the trends, we had two declarations first in 2007 and now 2009.
I would like to assure you that there will be another one in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and this is going to continue if we have resources to reach out to more communities. What people need is to get the right information, to make informed choices.
She She She: How certain is Gamcotrap, that these women will stick on the oath?
Dr. Touray: We are sure, because we had gone through a whole process of capacity building as well as making clarifications, building conscious issues and this has empowered them to choose to stop.
We have also worked with them to come up with an alternative of their choices to address poverty among circumcisers. We believe that they have gone through and the evidence of the effects of FGM is what made them to stop, and we also know that they are committed.
She She She: What are your next steps?
Dr. Touray: Our next step is to cover the remaining regions of the Gambia. We have already put a plan of action to cover the rest of the country. We have planned to work with all the relevant institutions. Our focus for 2010 to 2011 is to cover the North Bank Region, Central River Region, and the Lower River Region. We are also working to come up a law against FGM by the end of 2010 if possible. We have plans to work with the National Assembly members and the Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia (FLAG) as well as women rights movements and UN system in the Gambia.
She She She: will there be a consequence for any of them found doing FGM again?
Dr. Touray: We are trying to monitor them, they are also joining forces with us to continue the advocacy work in maintaining leadership in their communities. We quarterly visit and monitor them. They also serve as community-based facilitators and resource persons. In other words is a network.
She She She: How long does it take Gamcotrap to achieve this unprecedented achievement?
Dr. Touray: Gamcotrap has been in the fight over FGM for 20 years, and because it has to do with religious, we needed to do a lot of community sensitization and awareness programs to break the taboo of silence over FGM. This was followed by a systematic program planning process with targets which leads these results. We used different strategies like I mentioned earlier, we looked at culture, health, religion, womens rights and AEO (Alternative, Employment Opportunities) for circumcisers.
She She She: What were your constraints in reaching to this stand?
Dr. Touray: There was gross ignorance about religion, to deal with this misconception was formidable, however, we were able to succeed because the Quran was one of our tools for solving arguments.
We also had some good scholars who were honest with their knowledge to support the work we do. I would like to specifically mention Imam Baba Leigh, Ustass Saikou Fayinkey of Basse, Momodou Sanno and other few scholars who have contributed to FGM and Islam in very positive ways.
She She She: What message do you have for the public?
Dr. Touray: The message is that FGM is not religious injunction, and there is no where in the Quran where it is prescribed for women and no where to be found in any authenticated hadith.
She She She: Thanks for your time.
Dr.Touray: You must welcome.
Author: Sarata Jabbi-Dibba
source: thepoint news paper
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Speaking at the occasion, Barry Wells, the United States ambassador to The Gambia, said education is a tool that once gotten can never be taken away. He revealed that in some countries, there are times the girls and women are not given much responsibilities, but now this has changed because girls and women have started raising their voices. He urged the children especially girls to learn how to speak for themselves.
Speaking on behalf of the school administration, Zono Jammeh welcomed FAWE-GAM to the school and also thanked them for choosing their school to hold such training. Emily Sarr, chairperson of FAWE-GAM, said Tuseme is a Swahili expression that is translated in Emglish as let us speak out. In this respect he noted the founders thought it fit to call an outreach programme that aimed at empowering girls to overcome their inhibitions and voice out their concerns in public.
She disclosed that it is a fact that the socialisation process in Africa is one that restraints the female voice and so the education of girls in the classroom is affected by their inhibitions and inability to speak out. Researches had shown that one of the factors behind poor academic performance by girls was that girls were not sufficiently involved in discussions of problems affecting them and their proposed remedies, she revealed.
In conclusion, Sarr said that the other consideration include the fact that Tuseme works well to enhance the human rights of girls and women, and that with courage and proper communication skills, girls and women are more likely to speak up about sexual harassment and other violations of their rights as well as seek redress. Addressing the students, Ousman Saidykhan, the facilitator, advised the children to participate so that they learn as much as possible.
The circumcisers were drawn from three hundred and fifty one communities in the Upper and Central River Regions.
Sarjo Damba an ex-circumciser who was among the first group of circumcisers to dropped knife pledge that she and her colleagues will not practice FGM again having known its full effects on the girl child. She told the new comers that for her, she never regret dropping the knife and is hopeful that they wont also regret.
Mrs.Wulay Damba who just dropped the knife reaffirmed their commitment to the pledge adding that over the years they have learnt a lot about FGM. "We are dropping the knife today for the benefit of our children," she said.
Ms. Inge Lise Ihlen from Norway said that her country doesnt have the custom of FGM but is now grappling with its effects as a result of migrants including those from The Gambia.
Ms. Albert Valea representing her group from Spain also spoke of their relationship with GAMCORAP.
The historic occasion was chaired by a renowned women figure Mrs.Nyimasata Sanneh Bojang. Madam Bojang used the opportunity to commend the Gambian leader Sheikh Prof.Yahya Jammeh for creating an enabling environment for Gambian women to exercise their rights in all spheres of national development. She thanked GAMCOTRAP for being in the forefront in the crusade against FGM for the past two decades with respect, dialogue and sensitisation.
Dr.Morisanda Kuyateh of Inter-Africa Committee (IAC) told the gathering that Africa needs only one more Dr.Isatou Touray to completely eradicate FGM on the continent.
Speaking on behalf of the chiefs, the Head Chief of Basse Hammeh Minteh Krubally applauded GAMCOTRAP for their efforts and creating the much needed awareness among rural communities. He described the day as a very important event. He praised GAMCOTRAP for the way and manner they handle the subject. "Before people do not attend this type of meetings but if you see this huge crow here is because then there was lack of understanding but today because of GAMCOTRAP we are gathered here in our numbers" said the chief of the host district. Aja Binta Sidibeh of ADVAC delivered the vote of thanks and commended the women for voluntarily stopping the practice of FGM in their communities.
The event ended with presentation of certificates to the district chiefs in the area and ex-circumcisers accompanied with cultural display.
It could be recalled that in May last year, GAMCOTRAP organised the first ever-public declaration on FGM during which 18 circumcisers from 63 communities dropped the knife.
After relinquishing the practice, circumcisers took an oath that they would not practise the FGM in their life again.
Meanwhile, the oath taken by the ex-circumcisers read: "We the circumcisers of The Gambia representing our cluster villages in the Central and Upper River Regions of The Gambia hereby present today at the Basse Stadium solemnly declare to the world and in particular The Gambia that we have stopped the practice of female genital mutilation in our communities, we have over the years received information through the training and advocacy works of GAMCOTRAP on women's health and have equipped knowledge about the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and the rights of the child. Having been empowered with the right information, we hereby publicly declared that we shall never involve ourselves in the practice of FGM again; we take leadership and responsibility in protecting and promoting the best interest of the girl child."
Saturday, December 5, 2009
In 2007, a 15-year old girl from the small town of Montalto, Italy, was raped by 8 teenagers at a party. They have been released and the entire county is now publicly blaming the girl, including the police and town authorities.
Here are some of the hateful words that were said against her:
A local man: "These are good boys, they have no need to rape girls, it's more her fault, she hooked up with someone else earlier that same day."
A 70-year-old man: "If I were 13 I would have gotten in line."
A policeman: "Why wait a month to report it?"
The Montalto rape case, on TV against the girl: "She had fun too."
Brawl during interviews with the town's inhabitants: “The girl? She should be hanged!”
The mother: “My daughter is severely depressed; she's not doing well…”
Today, she is going through a horrendous court experience. November 25th through December 10th mark the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. On this occasion, let’s show her that she is not alone, that she has international support, and that people care about her, even if they don't know her.
Please send your messages of support and encouragement to Cynthia Martens at firstname.lastname@example.org, who will forward them to the young survivor.
For more on this case, see the two articles below (in Italian):
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Founded in 2003, The Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa strives to engage, inspire and equip young women and girls to become the next generation of leading politicians, activists, social entrepreneurs and change agents: Leaders who can transform and change institutions that legitimize and perpetuate discrimination against women. We firmly believe that the full and active participation of women in leadership is a pre-requisite for positive change and development in Africa, and addresses leadership imbalances. Moremi Initiative is headquartered in Ghana with offices in Nigeria and the United States- and works throughout Africa.
About MILEAD Fellows
I was honored to be nominated among 25 outstanding young African women leaders as 2009/2010 MILEAD Fellows. The MILEAD Fellows represent some of Africa’s most extra-ordinary young women leaders with the courage and commitment to lead/effect change in their communities. The Fellows, selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants represent 21 African countries and the Diaspora and include emerging young women leaders engaged in actively leading change on critical issues that range from women’s health and HIV/AIDS, economic justice, community development to political participation and environmental justice. They are between 19 to 25 years but have already demonstrated their commitment to serve and lead society at large. Together, they form a unique community which can dramatically affect the lives of future generations.
About 16 Day of Activism Against gender Violence
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence which is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day against Violence against Women, and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:
• raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
• strengthening local work around violence against women
• establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
• providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
• demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
• creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women
The theme for this year’s campaign is: Commit ▪ Act ▪ Demand: We CAN End Violence against Women!
Therefore, we all have a role to play; we all have a responsibility to end gender-based violence together as women, girls, men, boys, and individuals of all generations, religions, occupations, sexual orientations, abilities, political persuasions, and socio-economic backgrounds. In my capacity as the first and only Gambian to be awarded the MILEAD Fellowship 2009/2010 which enables us, the fellows to cross-examine concepts of leadership in a broad African context, cultivate the skills and experiences women need to occupy and excel in leadership positions and gain knowledge on cutting-edge issues critical to African women and their communities. We are each empowered and supported to create change in our community. Each fellow is leading change on a critical issue of importance to her community, and I am doing my part here in my community.
My project on early and forced marriage: In my fight against violence against women, I am looking at one of the major courses of domestic violence in my community which is early forced & arranged marriage which today results in profound physical, psychological and emotional consequences for affected girls and most often cut off educational opportunity and chances of personal growth for them. It further results in premature pregnancy and childbearing and potential lifetime of domestic and sexual subservience over which these girls has no control. These phenomena is destroying the lives of too many girls and young women in our community and denying them opportunities and rights that they may never have back. It requires urgent and immediate action Therefore, my project is a small but an important step in this direction- to mobilize and sensitize parents, girls and the community on the negative implications of this practice, promote community dialogue and action on the issue.
2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations’ formal recognition of November 25th as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. There are many other landmark dates and documents that are the direct result of ACTION that women’s rights activists and defenders have taken. The anti-violence against women movement provides one of the best illustrations of how local activism can translate into global action. Individuals, organizations, governments, etc. should take action on the commitments they have made to ending Violence against women. Each commitment – be it a personal pledge to speak out, a local or national law, an international convention or resolution, the Beijing Platform for Action – should be seen as a promise that has been made to women. NOW is the time to act on these promises. Every action, no matter how big or small, can make a difference!
At the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995; women’s organizations from around the world met with government representatives and collaboratively produced the Beijing Platform for Action – one of the most forward-thinking government negotiated documents on women’s rights to date. This ground-breaking document set forth a list of actions, which, if implemented, would significantly reduce incidences of violence against women. 2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women. Therefore, we must all demand implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as other key documents, and demand state accountability for ending impunity, allocating adequate resources, and implementing good laws and national action plans to address Violence against Women. We also call on the UN to take bolder action on the UN Secretary-General’s “Unite to End Violence against Women” Campaign.
What each and every one can do to end violence against women:
• Don’t abuse your daughter, wife, mother, girlfriend or any female
• Speak out against violence against women when you see one
• Parents must desist from forcing their young and innocent daughters into marriages that they are not ready or prepared for.
• The media should help create awareness about this important issue.
• Those who want to be part of my campaign or wish to support my campaign can contact me on +220 6206600 or send an email to email@example.com
Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.