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NIGERIA: Sustained Advocacy Funding, Key to Ending FGM

image Conference urges greater visibility for anti-FGM activities

Sustained advocacy, funding and support are key components to facilitate efforts aimed at routing female genital mutilation and cutting in the country, Dr. Isatou Touray, executive director of GAMCOTRAP has said.

Speaking yesterday at the workshop on Generating Alternatives Against FGM in The Gambia, held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi, Dr. Touray said that GAMCOTRAP, a non governmental advocacy group, has implemented many activities in collaboration with its partners.

These activities have been aimed at discouraging the practice of female genital mutilation in the country.
According to her, the advocacy group has achieved some positive responses. These include opening up a discussion on male and female sexuality and the taboo of silence over this is also broken in almost all the communities they work in the URR and CRR.

She also described the support of district authorities and opinion leaders to be effective and positive. “There is also awareness about the global nature of the campaign about female genital mutilation.”

Dr. Touray said the results achieved so far send positive signals that with intensive advocacy and sustained programme outreach to communities, it is expected that FGM would gradually end in The Gambia. “I wish to also note that the continued partnership of partners such as the Inter Africa Committee, Save the Children Sweden, FOKUS and Equality Now in these regions have facilitated the process of engaging these communities and the Yolocamba Solidaridad project has strengthened these partnerships,” she informed.

Despite the success stories registered, the GAMCOTRAP boss stressed that immense work remains to be done, as various communities need to be covered and there is the necessity for sustained financial and material support to smoothen the progress of and hasten GAMCOTRAP's work in the country and the sub-region.

For her, violence against women and girls is still prevalent, gender equity and equality are far from being achieved, FGM is still widely practiced. She said harmful traditional practices must be stopped and good ones be adopted. These areas of concern, she said, are critical for the attainment of the fundamental human rights of women and ensuring their complete wellbeing and empowerment within their communities.

She then pledged the organization's continued efforts to rout these practices, saying they would continue to provide information and education to communities and professional bodies through advocacy, training information, campaigns, sensitization and social mobilization.

While she commended the Region of Madrid for giving them the human resource support needed, she also thanked Yolocamba Solidarida for supporting them in their various engagements with the communities.

“GAMCOTRAP appreciates the enabling environment created to address FGM with the people. Indeed positive change can only be positive when people get the right information to make the right choice,” she concluded.

She also called for more visibility of anti-FGM work in the country. She said the activities of the organization has made the communities recognize the harmful effects of FGM, as it is now recognized as a violation of women's sexual and reproductive health rights.

Also speaking at the conference, Begona Ballesteros Sanchez, a representative from the Yolocamba Solidarida project commended GAMCOTRAP for the daunting challenge they endured in meeting their targets. He underlined his appreciation over the collaboration of the sister organizations in the development of women and girl children in the society.

Mr. Santiago De Miguel representative from the Region of Madrid also expressed similar sentiments. According to him, eliminating FGM is a big challenge.

According to him, FGM is deeply rooted from ancient days; and there always must be challenges in ending such practices. He reiterated the willingness of his organization to stand firm against FGM in many countries, among which is The Gambia. He said they also work closely with the Inter African Committee against FGM and have since been providing assistance to many countries, including Senegal, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and others.

In her address, H.E Cindy Gregg, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Banjul acknowledged the role of GAMCOTRAP in protecting women against all inimical practices that affect their lives. She said many people still do not understand the necessity for the campaign against FGM.

She said the total eradication of FGM could not be done overnight, citing that even in the United States, there were cases of FGM in many states, despite that there are laws that have banned it in recent years. She gave instances of immigrants in the US who still persist on practicing FGM, stressing that eradicating FGM in the Gambia requires grass root education.

The event which brought together parliamentarians, civil society leaders, traditional birth attendant, dignitaries from the government and NGOs, also had in attendance participants from other countries like Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau who dwelled on their achievements and challenges in eradicating FGM in their respective countries.

All countries pledged to adopt some of the strategies GAMCOTRAP is using in its advocacy.

SOURCE: Today Newspaper

AUTHOR: Amat Jeng

URL: Click here

DATE: 12/02/2010

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