By Ndey Sowe & Fatoumata K Jallow
International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) which is held on the 11th of October each year is aimed at raising awareness on the unique challenges faced by adolescent and young girls and to promote their empowerment.
This year’s commemoration was supported by ‘Child Fund’ together with stakeholders and local partners such as ‘Foni Ding Ding’ Federation, ‘Ding Ding Yiriwa’ Federation and ‘Saama Kairo’ Federation. The commemoration which was observed at the Governor’s Office in Brikama in the West Coast Region (WCR) was celebrated with the theme: “Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow.”
The event brought together young girls from all the regions of the country to participate and dialogue as well as showcase their talents in drama, poetry and singing and to give out messages on the challenges young girls face in rural communities.
Nearly 25 years ago, some 30,000 women and men from nearly 200 counties arrived in Beijing, China for the Fourth World Conference on Women, with the determination to recognize the rights of women and girls as human rights.
This particular conference culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as the most comprehensive policy agenda for the empowerment of women. In the years following, women pressed this agenda forward leading global movements on issues ranging from sexual and reproductive health rights to equal pay.
Today, these movements have expanded. They are being organized by and for adolescent girls and are tackling issues such as child marriage, education inequality, gender based violence, climate change and self-esteem. Girls are proving that they are unscripted and unstoppable.
Fabakary Sanneh the Regional Youth Coordinator of Brikama spoke on behalf of the Governor. Sanneh said the day was an important milestone towards the success of the girl child; that investing in young people is a step in the right direction.
Alieu Marr, Program Specialist for Child Protection and Advocacy at ‘Child Fund’ highlighted the importance of the day as well as Child Fund’s contribution towards the development and empowerment of the girl child in the Gambia.
Penda Bah of ‘Saama Kairo’ Federation and Isa O. Mbye of ‘Think Young Women’, who are both young girls, urged parents to stop child marriage, FGM and education inequality within families, amongst other issues.
“Parents should empower their children for a better and brighter future,” they said; that platforms like such should be a continuation in order to raise awareness on the plight of young girls as well as address the many bottlenecks that impede their survival, growth and development.
Isatou Jallow, Acting Coordinator at ‘Girls Agenda’ and Mariama Johm, Coordinator at ‘Think Young Women’, all highlighted the significance of the day. They all urged their institutions to support girls’ empowerment and development in the country.