UN Urges Authorities to Priorities Well-Being of Women, Girls Against FGM

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By Ndey Sowe

The United Nations Office in The Gambia, in a statement shared with this outlet, urged authorities to foster a national dialogue towards a shared vision that prioritises the protection of rights, and well-being of women and girls against FGM.

“We urge national authorities, civil society groups, and traditional and religious leaders to foster a national dialogue towards a shared vision that prioritises the well-being of all girls and women in The Gambia,” the statement indicated.

The statement says the United Nations Office in The Gambia takes note of the recent calls to reverse the legislation prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Recognised as an infringement on the fundamental human rights of girls and women, it reveals that medical evidence consistently confirms the detrimental effects of FGM on their physical and psychological health.

The UN added that the 2020 Gambia Demographic and Health Survey, reveals a troubling statistic indicating that up to 73 percent of Gambian women between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM, with an alarming 65 percent being subjected to it before the age of five years.

The statement further stated that the landmark decision by The Gambia in 2015, through the Women’s Amendment Act to criminalise FGM, showcased the country’s unwavering commitment to protecting the rights of women and girls. This dedication is in line with The Gambia’s obligations under international conventions it ratified, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the dispatch reveals. 

“Since the criminalisation, commendable progress has been made in protecting girls and women from harmful practices, ensuring that they realise their rights and potential in terms of health, education, income, and equality. Rolling back such progress would be a setback and undermine Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, aiming for the global eradication of FGM by 2030,” the statement indicated.

“As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2023, it is essential to remember the commitment to safeguarding the rights of everyone, especially girls and women,” the statement added.

According to the UN, this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (6 February 2023), the UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasised men’s and boys’ crucial role in this fight.

The UN in The Gambia reiterates the Secretary-General’s call, highlighting that all men and boys, in their capacities as brothers, fathers, health workers, teachers, and traditional and religious leaders, can actively advocate against FGM.

It also reaffirms its commitment and determination to support the nation’s efforts to create an environment where the rights and dignity of every girl and woman are upheld.

 “We will continue to stand with women and girls, especially those who are survivors, supporting their leadership and engagement in the fight to end FGM,” the statement indicated.