The Impact of Covid-19 on Girls School Closure Can Also Be a Recipe for Child Marriage, FGM-says Government


By Ndey Sowe

Lala Jaiteh, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has disclosed that the closure of schools can also be a recipe for child marriage and FGM.

She made this remark recently during the occasion of the World Population Day observed in the Gambia, which was presided over by the Vice President of the Gambia, Dr, Isatou Touray.

She said: “The Closure of schools can also be recipe for child marriage and FGM which is a threat to the future of the girls in addition to serious health and reproductive health consequences”.

She added that economic stress on families due to the outbreak can put children and in particular girls especially those from marginalized communities, at great risk of exploitation, child labour and gender-based violence.

She said globally, studies in other counties has revealed that women and girls are facing existential threats to their safety and freedoms right now as domestic violence victims are constantly confined with their abusers.

“The pandemic threatens access to reproductive and child health care, and increased burden on unpaid family care at home, and the Gambia is no exception”, she said.
She revealed that reports have also reached that most women are not reporting for anti natal and post natal services or infant welfare services for fear of contracting the Coronavirus.

This, she said, can result in severe health and reproductive health outcomes for mothers and their families.
She therefore noted that support to Covid-19 stimulus package must be provided to sustain families on the aftermath of the pandemic and to go a long way to cushion the socio-economic impact of Cobid-19 on women, children and persons with disabilities.

“One of the primary objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as embodied in SDG5 is to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls”, she said.
This, she said, is an established fact that gender equality and the empowerment of women are indispensable in achieving sustainable and inclusive development and prosperity for any country and the Gambia is no exception.

She said the achievement of this SDGs and especially goal 5 will require transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

“Equality is not a women’s issue, it belongs to all of us, our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindset can have an impact on our large society”, she noted.

She remarked: “We remain committed to protect the rights and address the needs and aspirations of children, women and other vulnerable people implementing long-term social protection and inclusive programmes that would spur sustainable social development while ensuring broad-based governance, coordination and partnership with related actors in providing decentralized services in all administrative regions”.

“We will continue to work in implementing programmes that bring about visible change in the lives of women, girls and children especially after the pandemic.”

While extending her ministries profound gratitude to all women in the Gambia for their hard work and dedication to make a difference, she revealed that her ministry in partnership with UNDP and UNFPA are currently conducting a study on socio economic impact of Covid-19 on Women and Girls.