4th Dropping of the Knife in the Central River Region North, the Gambia
GAMCOTRAP Celebrates the 4th Dropping of the Knife in the Central River Region North, the Gambia
The advocacy to bring about positive change in the lives of girls and women against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has impacted a greater level of awareness in the Gambia. In 2010, GAMCOTRAP identified the Central River Region North as a key region for the campaign to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation through the Rights Based Approach and grassroots mobilization strategies using the Cluster Approach.
Between 2010- 2012, GAMCOTRAP has been able to directly reach more than two thousand women and men of different age groups and social status. These include the Chiefs, Alkalolu, Imams, women leaders, Circumcisers, and Community Based Facilitators, amongst others, and the wider community supports GAMCOTRAP in its work in the region. The population was reached through thirty-four (34) direct community based training and information campaigns, grassroots mobilization and advocacy in the region. Many more have been indirectly reached through the community radio programmes. A spillover effect means that over ten thousand people have been indirectly reached in Central River Region North.
Apart from reaching out to communities in the region, institutions such as the security forces, schools and the Local Government Authorities in the region were also trained on gender based violence and the realization that FGM violates the rights of the child and the bodily integrity of women.
Through a series of consultations with the Chiefs, women leaders and the office of the Governor, thirty Circumcisers from Central River Region North have been trained over the years and their capacity built on Alternative Employment Opportunities in their communities where they can earn income rather than cutting girls in the name of tradition.
Over 2000 people have directly benefitted from the training programmes supported by a series of partners. In 2010, Equality Now, the Inter African Committee on Traditional Practices and Danida supported GAMCOTRAP. In 2011, the European Union Non-State Actors played a major role in funding the organization’s engagement and UNFPA also supported some of the Communities.
In 2012, UNFPA identified GAMCOTRAP as one of its Implementing Partners for the UNFPA Gambia Government Country Programme 2012- 2016 and this has greatly impacted the support provided. It enabled the organization to carry out twenty three (23) training programmmes, advocacy on four Community Radios as well as consultations with relevant partners and institutions. Feminist Trust Review also complimented the GAMCOTRAP activities in the CRRN in its 2012 project.
GAMCOTRAP’s three year intervention has resulted in awareness about the effects FGM has on women and girls, the rights of women and children, and the realization that culture is dynamic and changes overtime. The project has also created the opportunity for participants from the five districts of Central River Region and Janjanbureh to realize that FGM is not an obligation for Muslim women but a mere traditional practice. It has been realized that FGM has a negative impact on the sexual and reproductive health of women and they have come to consensus to stop the practice. Advocacy for a law also intensified during the project period and communities called for a law to prohibit FGM.
Local community radios, Brikamaba Community Radio in particular, and different media houses have given full support to the project implementation through their radio programs and newspapers. GAMCOTRAP would like to thank them for the role they play in the promotion and protection of women and girls from FGM.
To celebrate this success, GAMCOTRAP under the leadership of the Executive Director, Dr. Isatou Touray, together with the Chiefs and people of the Central River Region North and Janjanbureh will celebrate 30 Circumcisers from 27 Clusters and 336 Communities who have gained the GAMCOTRAP experience to protect girls from FGM. A public declaration of their decision to stop FGM in their communities at the Dropping of the Knife celebration is scheduled for the 13th April 2013 in the historic town of Wassu, in the Niani of the Central River Region North.
GAMCOTRAP would like to thank the government of the Gambia for creating the enabling environment for reaching out to the people to empower them with information to make the right choices and decision. Also special thanks to UNFPA, the European Union Non-State Actors Project, Equality Now, IAC-Danida Project 2010 and Feminist Trust Review whose support made it possible to reach out to remote communities and include them in the development agenda in the protection and promotion of the rights of women and children against FGM, and other harmful traditional practices that result in violence against women and girls.
GAMCOTRAP would like to thank all its donor partners, the UNFPA in particular, for funding the Dropping of the Knife celebration to manifest the results of the work done over the years in the protection of women’s rights and the eradication of FGM in particular in the Central River Region North of the Gambia. They have all proven that with trust and dedication to human development, we can eliminate FGM in one generation.