In March this year, support for the Women’s Health Project came to an end. Since 1996 FORWARD has supported BAFROW in the three-year project in two districts (Banjul Kombo St Mary and the Lower River Division) of The Gambia. Funded by the Department of International Development, the overall aim of the project was to reduce the incidence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), increase health knowledge in the communities and enhance gynaecological/sexual health services for women.
The four main components of the project consisted of:
- The production of Health Education and advocacy materials
- Training and economic development for circumcisors
- Training for Professionals
- Community Mobilisation and Health Promotion for Reproductive health & FGM, restructuring puberty rites ceremonies and promotion of gynaecological and sexual health counselling.
There has been tremendous results stemming from these various initiatives. BAFROW identified the need to improve and update existing health promotion materials in The Gambia. Through the use of BAFROW’s activities in these communities and through the sensitisation materials, all circumcisors contacted claimed these materials and activities had helped them increase their knowledge of FGM and 75% of them distributing materials and using the Flip Books. In terms of economic development for former circumcisors, 21 income generation projects have been set up which help to encourage the abandonment of the practice of FGM, for those people who rely on circumcising ‘as a living’.
This is just a small taster of the activities in these two areas of The Gambia.
The project work hasn’t stopped there, BAFROW is pushing forward with such initiatives as camps for rites of passage: focusing on initiation without mutilation. We hope these successes will act as a catalyst throughout the country.