By Vincent Ogo
June 30, 2021
Positive Action Foundation West Africa (PAFWA) is initiating a project meant to promote the rights of the girl child.
A statement from the Foundation noted that “the girl child is one of the critical areas of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action; girls’ rights are codified within the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and include non-discrimination, protection from harm and abuse, and full participation in family, social, and cultural life; the Convention also spells out some human rights violations that are unique to the girl child, including discrimination based upon sex, prenatal sex selection, female genital mutilation and early marriage”.
PAFWA further noted that over the years a number of milestones have been registered in the advancement of women’s rights in The Gambia; in 2015 the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) was banned in the country, this was followed by the banning of early and forced marriage for girls (2016); progress has also been made in closing the gender gaps in enrolment as well as retention of girls in Gambian schools.
“The aforementioned gains need to be sustained. That is why it is necessary to sensitise the students on their rights, urge them to take their education serious and pursue it to the highest heights. The project uses different approaches, including media campaigns, advocacy, lobbying, and sharing knowledge through network building, to enhance the effectiveness of strategies to improve the situation of girls,” the statement highlighted.
Explaining the objectives of the project and what it sets out to achieve, the Foundation said it will sensitise female pupils in primary and secondary schools in The Gambia so that they can be aware of their rights regarding FGM as well as early and forced marriage; that it is a criminal offence for anyone to make them undergo FGM or force them into a marriage; explain to girls the harmful nature of FGM and its grave implications for their health and future wellbeing; help the girls understand that the story about girls who did not undergo FGM being promiscuous is completely false; encourage the retention of female pupils in schools in The Gambia, especially in the rural areas; encourage female pupils in Gambian schools to always aim for academic excellence; encourage female pupils to always be determined to complete their education; encourage female pupils to dream big and look towards becoming professionals.
Among the Impact/Outcomes of the project as spelt out by PAFWA are: Girls will become aware of their rights concerning FGM and early child marriage; Girls are better informed about the dangers associated with FGM; The elimination of FGM in The Gambia is boosted; Increased retention of female students in Gambian schools; Girls become determined to complete their education; Education of the girl-child in The Gambia is boosted; Incidence of early and forced marriage is reduced; Girls get informed and better positioned to contribute to national development.
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