The Gambia - Alternative Rites of Passage

A three year project implemented by FORWARD UK and the Foundation for Research on Women's Health, Productivity and the Environment (BAFROW, the Gambia) was successfully completed in March 1999.

The project was carried out in two districts of the Gambia, Banjul Kombo St Mary (an urban slum district) and the Lower River Division (a rural district) with the overall aim to reduce the incidence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); increase health knowledge in the communities and to enhance gynaecological and sexual health services for women.

The project had four main components including the production of health education and advocacy material; community mobilisation and health promotion (including reproductive health and discussion of the harmful effects of FGM); restructuring puberty rites ceremonies and the promotion of gynaecological and sexual health counselling. The project also included training and alternative methods of income generation for excisors and training for professionals.

In the first year of the project women's health promotion advocacy materials were produced, including T-shirts, posters and brochures. These were distributed throughout the participating villages. BAFROW also developed new health promotion materials. A handbook for professionals, a flip book for use by local community mobilisers and simple readers for use in schools and local communities were produced and distributed and are used by health workers and community mobilisers in their health sessions. These materials helped to change attitudes and raise awareness of the health issues surrounding FGM.

Emphasis has been placed upon training community mobilisers and ex-circumcisors to take on the task of health promotion and facilitation in their own communities.

A well woman clinic was opened in Banjul, which provides gynaecological and sexual health services. This is a crucial component in the programme.

The 'Association of Ex-circumcisors for a Better Life' was formed by those who have agreed to stop the practice. The organisation is active in the campaign against FGM and are managing the loan scheme which encourages excisors to set up small income generating projects which are more financially beneficial then the practice of FGM.

BAFROW in association with FORWARD has provided training to different professional groups including community mobilisers, circumcisors and their assistants and village heads to enable them to fulfil their role in the campaign to eradicate FGM. They have also been given training on business management and skills.

This project was funded by the Department for International Development.

More information

In addition to the information about past programmes provided in this section, further information about these, and other past programmes can be found on the following pages:

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