By Ndey Sowe
Gambian ‘Girl Power’, a local civil society organisation in collaboration with the International Open University (IOU), on Thursday 30th December 2021, organized a seminar to inspire and empower young girls in the country.
The seminar which was held at the IOU’s hall in Kanifing, under the theme: “Authentic Empowerment Seminar”, helped to define, clarify and step into the larger purpose of the existence of women and young girls.
The seminar brought together student members of the Gambian Girl Power, teachers and mentors amongst other dignitaries, to speak to the young girls on their involvement in the transformative action of increasing their level of self-confidence as well as their positive self-concept towards academic excellence.
Since its founding in 2018, ‘Girl Power’ has been growing in membership and activities. Currently, the foundation is serving more than 200 students in elementary and junior high School in the greater Banjul area.
Despite increased access to education for girls at basic and secondary School levels, a barrage of gender obstacles continues to limit the chances of success for young girls in their education. In this respect, Dr. Haddy Njie, founder and president of ‘Girl Power’, said her foundation slogan i.e. ‘I Can’, is a direct affront to the limited and often economically under productive roles socially assigned to women in Gambian society.
“Girl Power affirms that Girls can stand up for themselves, and can achieve their dreams through hard work, and can be the best version of themselves every day,” Dr. Njie said. She implored on young girls to do things that will help them remain committed to their purpose and encourage them to celebrate their small accomplishments. She also implored on them not to be bothered on the goals that they have not achieved, while urging them to work towards their new goals or to fix their existing problems.
Marina Thorpe, the Gender Based Violence Programme Assistant, said hard work brought her this far and encouraged all young girls to remain focused in order to overcome all other challenges; that success will come only after several failures.
“Be authentic with your dreams. Find and do things from which you can derive self-fulfillment and which can contribute to your personal growth and societal development,” She advised.
Sarata Ngack Sowe, a health practitioner with the Ministry of Health emphasized to the young girls to learn hard and urged them not to give up with their dreams. She explained to them how she struggled through scarce opportunities to reach where she is today and urged them to take advantage of every initiative that comes their way.
Isatou B. Secka, Assistant Registrar at the International Open University (IOU) dealt on the importance of education. According to her, education helps someone to be aware of so many things, and urges young girls to take tough decisions in order for them to become more responsible. She adviced them to believe in whatever they want to do as well as have faith in everything that they do.
”For many children, the most important role models are their parents and caregivers. They look up to a variety of role models to help shape how they behave in school, in their relationships, or when making difficult decisions,” she concludes.