By Oumie Mendy
The Girls’ Agenda, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that advocates for the respect of the human rights of girls and women and the promotion of their freedom and dignity premiered a cartoon animation movie targeting the illegal practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The movie which premiered on Friday 26th August 2022 aims to raise awareness of the negative impact of FGM.
“A Long Day” depicts the realities of FGM in Gambian communities and promotes a safe haven dubbed “Kaira Suu” that protects girls from the harmful practice through community sensitisation by young women.
The event held at Ebunjan Theatre targets children and their families and aims to cultivate a generation of children that understand the consequences of FGM by bringing together students, parents and other stakeholders to better equip them to protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of every child.
Neneh Touray, Deputy Director at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare said her Ministry is willing to work with Girls Agenda to end FGM.
“We need to catch them young,” she said, adding that “ending gender-based violence needs collective efforts for it is everyone’s business”. Ms Touray noted that girls need to be taught about the consequences of FGM, and child marriage and to better identify violence against them.
“Some of this violence are deep-rooted and dealing with deep-rooted practices is not easy but it is a fight worth fighting,” said the Deputy Director. She urged the young people to help to spread the information and fight to end the practice of FGM.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) “Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. The WHO FGM Fact Sheet notes that “the practice has no health benefits for girls and women” and that “FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths”.
The meeting highlighted the efforts of the Girls’ Agenda together with Amplify Change over the years to curb the illegal practice of FGM.
Some of the activities include the All Girls Empowerment Camps, working with religious leaders, and traditional communicators and the production of music on FGM and other harmful norms. In addition that this Drama was also performed on FGM and child marriage in multiple languages to raise awareness and promote behavioural change.
The coordinator of the Girls’ Agenda, Maltida Komma told Gainako that despite the ban on FGM, there is still a need for continuous advocacy against the practice as there remain issues of weak enforcement, secret practice, cross-border FGM, inter-generational support/understanding and the need for attitudinal change as the foundation for eliminating FGM.
“This we believe would shape, empower and build the resilience of the next generation of women leaders championing the cause and having a total abolishment of the practice,” she said. Madam Komma urged young girls and their parents to pay close attention to the movie.
“We hope that all of you would grow up knowing you are special and appreciate to be voices of change,” she concluded.