At least 50 women circumcisers, including traditional birth attendants and women leaders have participated in a three-day training on sexual and reproductive health rights and entrepreneurial skills in Basse, Upper River Region (URR).
The training – conducted by the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children (Gamcotrap) in partnership with the Inter-Africa Committee and Equality Now – is aimed at providing alternative employment opportunities for trained ex-circumcisers who have stopped practicing female circumcision.
Speaking to the participants, the Assistant Governor of URR, MS Kah, congratulated Gamcotrap for its continuos struggle to support the women of URR to pursue their development agenda.
Mr Kah observed that the community sensitisation undertaken by Gamcotrap is encouraging as it discourages many people from practising FGM. URR Assistant Governor Kah called on the participants be good role models for their communities.
Dilating on the objectives of the training, the Executive Director of Gamcotrap, Dr Isatou Touray, noted that the leadership undertaken by the ex-circumcisers and their communities to stop FGM set the pace for the wind of change highlighted by the dropping of knives at the Independence Stadium on May 5, last year.
Dr Touray noted that poverty is one of the factors that perpetuates the practice of FGM, saying that providing entrepreneurial skills to the ex-circumcisers will contribute to better management of their small income generating activities, thereby contributing to reducing poverty at the household level.
Mariama Jaw, councilor for Basse, called on women to use their leadership influence to discourage FGM and its effects on women and girls. Ms Jaw promised to advocate for the eradication of all harmful traditional practices affecting women and girls.
She then finally commended Gamcotrap for building confidence amongst women to effectively participate in community and national development.
In a separate development at the OSIWA-supported community sensitisation activity that gathered over 100 women from Giroba Kunda and surrounding villages in URR, Ms Jaw expressed the necessity for women to be encouraged to participate in political issues that will advance the course of women in society.
It was observed that women had always taken leadership at the household level to improve the welfare of the family and the community; however, it is important for women to extend that leadership role to the national level as part of the women’s empowerment process.
The sensitisation also included awareness creation on harmful traditional practices and sexual and reproductive health rights.
Meanwhile, URR Governor Omar Khan has commended Gamcotrap for its sustained engagement in the region and expressed optimism that his region will be the first FGM-free zone in The Gambia. He made these remarks during a courtesy call paid to him by the women.
A learned Islamic scholar in Basse, Saikou Fayinke, the Alkalo of Kaba Kama, Aja Fatou Danso, national women’s councilor, Aja Kumba Kora, were among several dignitaries who attended the activities.
Source: The Daily Observer – 1 February 2008