By Sarjo Camara-Singateh from Dakar
The first ever African continental summit which aims to end Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage, has started in the Senegalese Capital Dakar.
The three-day forum which began yesterday 16th June 2019, is organised by Save Hands for Girls, a local Gambian NGO in collaboration with the governments of Senegalese and Gambia. The theme of the forum is: “Reinforcing the bridge between Africa and the rest of the world to promote an accelerated implementation of zero tolerance policy on FGM/C and Child Marriages. A major focus for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
In her opening statement on behalf of Senegalese president President Macky Sall, Aminata Touray said the summit will avail delegates the opportunity to share, exchange and create a new framework for discussion and dialogue, develop innovative strategies as well as establish a coordination and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms among others. She indicated that Senegal is striving hard to end violence against women and all forms of gender discrimination.
The vice president of the Gambia Dr. Isatou Touray said the summit is in line with efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and meet the aspirations of Africa’s Agenda 2063, considering that their policies and actions converge on the need to root out all practices that may compromise the physical and moral integrity of women and girls.
She reiterated that the Government of the Gambia is committed to the fight against FGM, child marriages and all forms of violence against women; that action is required at all levels to ensure that FGM/C and child marriages are eradicated by 2030. She said teenage girls around the world face more and greater challenges than their male counterparts; that millions of teenage girls face deep discrimination and exclusion that prevent them from claiming their rights and living out their true potentials.
The Executive Director of ‘Safe Hands’ for Girls Jaha Dukureh, said the summit aims primarily to translate into action the commitment of Governments, religious leaders, traditional leaders, survivors, community-based organizations (CBOs), the media, youth, women and civil society organizations in order to help eradicate FGM/C by 2030.
More than 500 participants, including representatives from heads of states of Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan attended the forum as well as UN and African Union agencies and representatives from donor communities.
The Gambian delegation led by the vice president Dr. Isatou Touray, consists of the Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare Fatou Kinteh, Justice Minister Abubacar Tambedou, officials of the Women’s Bureau, Ministry of Health, journalists, Islamic scholars, youth from various organizations, a steering committee on FGM/C and Child Marriages and musicians. The summit ends today, Tuesday June 18th 2019.