GAMBIA: Summaru On GAMCOTRAP Intervention On FGM

The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting The Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) is a grassroots women’s rights organization established in 1984 and affiliated to the Inter African Committee (IAC). Since then GAMCOTRAP has been involved in advocacy work to end FGM and Other Harmful Traditional practices inimical to the health and wellbeing of women and girl-children in the Gambia in partnership with the Ministry of Health.

Government’s partnership with GAMCOTRAP in the fight against female genital mutilation is through the Ministry of Health. To that effect a Memorandum of Understanding was signed since 2000 and this enabled GAMCOTRAP to work at the community level where health care providers are empowered with health effects of FGM to be included in their health talks. Similarly the Ministry of Health has in the past years provided secretarial support under the PHPNP project to strengthen the institutional capacity of GAMCOTRAP. Similarly, GAMCOTRAP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of education since 1997 and a lot of work has been done through these partnerships at country level in terms of policy and social mobilization at community level.

Over the years GAMCOTRAP has been able to reach a wide and culturally diverse audience of all age groups through sensitization, action, research and partnership with other critical partners. GAMCOTRAP’s social mobilization draws it impetus from the various international and national instruments ratified by the Gambia i.e. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa as well as the National Policy for the Advancement of Gambian Women; which attempts to bridge the gender gaps and offers a framework within which Gambian women can move out of inequality and deprivation towards greater participation in national development processes.

GAMCOTRAP’s work on Harmful Traditional Practices especially on FGM and Other HTPs made the debate on FGM more visible in communities and facilitated dialogue among the people while also ensuring change towards the protection of women and children from violence against women. People are now able to engage in debates and discussions regarding the practice at various levels in their communities. The constructive engagement at community/grassroots level has also facilitated more public declarations by Circumcisers and their communities who committed themselves to stop the practice. They now serve as role models and change agents to ensure sustainability.
Men and women are now calling for legislation to protect young girls from female genital mutilation and strengthening the established network of Ex-circumcisers of GAMCOTRAP in the Upper, Central and Lower River Regions.

GAMCOTRAP is involved in bridge building programmes with various countries like Norway, USA, Britain, Sweden and Spain to create a more protective environment for African immigrant children coming from abroad for holidays.

There is still a lot to be done and more communities to be reached with information about the effects of FGM on Reproductive health and sexual rights in the Gambia. There is the tendency that communities that are yet to be reached will continue the practice and might serve as influencing factors for some families to move out to get their children circumcised in such communities. We hope that this will be sincerely addressed if funds can be available for the realization of the goals of eradicating Female Genital Mutilation in the Gambia.

Indigenous organizations working on the issues are faced with new actors super imposing themselves on already existing projects resulting in duplication of efforts and inefficient use of resources. This has to be addressed working closely with donors in-country.
Also, funds for activities still remain a big challenge for women’s rights organizations working on FGM and Violence against Women (VAW). Despite all the commitments put forward about FGM and Violence against Women, Women’s rights organizations have very limited access to resources to engage effectively.
There is still no specific law against FGM in the Gambia and there is the need to harmonize
International conventions/instruments to achieve substantive equality for women.

Way Forward
To strengthen the coalition against FGM to engage effectively.
Donors should support local initiatives for sustainability
To put in place a specific law against female genital mutilation
To increase the Budget to end FGM in Africa
Dr. Isatou Touray
Executive Director

SOURCE: Foroyaa online

URL: Click here

DATE: 22/05/2009

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