18 Feb 2016
Commemorations for the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting are especially significant for The Gambia this year, following the banning and criminalization of FGM/C. UNICEF photo
by Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia
In November 2015, the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) was banned and subsequently criminalized in The Gambia. This marks an important milestone in the country’s journey to end FGM/C and ensure that the fundamental human rights of girls and women are protected and fulfilled.
The achievement places The Gambia proudly among 26 other African countries that have banned FGM/C through legislation. And it comes after years of work to raise awareness among individuals and communities, reinforced by intense advocacy with decision and policy makers. As a result, where FGM/C used to be a taboo, the subject is now openly discussed in Gambian homes and communities.
The Joint UNFPA/UNICEF programme for the abandonment of FGM/C played a pivotal role in this critical transition for the women and girls of The Gambia. Support from the joint programme allowed for the sensitization and training of traditional and religious leaders, men, women, children, policy makers, law enforcement agents and circumcisers on the health and human rights effects of FGM/C. Once convinced, Islamic religious leaders and scholars became powerful advocates against FGM/C with influence at both the policy and community …