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Protect women and girls in their diversity, uphold the ban on female genital mutilation in The Gambia and beyond

Publiceringsdatum: 4 jul 2024

03 July 2024
Generation Equality cross-action coalition solidarity statement

Protect women and girls in their diversity, uphold the ban on female genital mutilation (Women’s Amendment Act 2015) in The Gambia and beyond

he Generation Equality Action Coalition Leaders, and Commitment Makers, a wide network of feminist organizations and human rights defenders, who are signatories to this statement, firmly oppose any legislative attempts, in any context, which set back women and girls’ rights. Accelerating action to end harmful practices, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is acollective commitment across the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence and the Action Coalition on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and cross-cutting the work and efforts of the Action Coalition on Feminist Movement and Leadership.

We are issuing this statement in response to the ongoing and alarming developments related to the possible repeal of sections of the Women’s (Amendment) Act of 2015 aimed at reversing the ban on FGM in The Gambia. We strongly appeal to all members of the National Assembly and policymakers in The Gambia to vote against this bill and to not support or move ahead with the repeal. We consider the potential repeal of this law to be a severe setback in terms of gains made on human rights, gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and public health in the country, with severe gendered repercussions extending well beyond The Gambia.

In The Gambia itself, 73 per cent of women aged 15-49 have undergone FGM.[1] In 2024, nearly 4.4 million girls, or more than 12,000 each day, are at risk of undergoing FGM around the world.[2] In The Gambia, where such crises are recurring, repealing the existing FGM law would further exacerbate women and girls’ vulnerability, jeopardizing their health and economic potential, thereby hindering national development. Women and girls who undergo FGM are at a higher risk of experiencing significant health complications, including chronic pain, infections, urinary and vaginal problems, menstrual issues, increased risk of childbirth complications, long-term gynecological problems such as fistula, psychological effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological trauma and are even at risk of death.  FGM affects women and girls’ right to dignity, as well as their rights to education, health, freedom from inhumane, and degrading treatment, to bodily autonomy, and the right to life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Cost Calculator, if FGM continues until the year 2047, it will affect 1.3 million Gambian girls and cost the country $8.4 million (USD) annually. Completely eradicating the practice could save 870,000 girls and reduce costs by $5.7 million (USD) per year in The Gambia, savings that could be allocated to other developmental needs of the country.

As signatories of this statement, we collectively recognize the passing of the Women’s (Amendment) Act of 2015 in The Gambia, which criminalized FGM and imposed relevant penalties. The law is foundational and enables implementation of critical policies, strategies, and interventions to eliminate FGM. This law reflects a commitment to protecting women and girls, protecting the right to health and advancing gender equality.

We, the signatories of this statement, openly call for The Gambia’s reaffirmation towards its obligations to uphold global, regional, sub-regional and in-country commitments to protect and respect human rights. Reversing the ban on FGM sets back the collective global efforts to eliminate this harmful practice, which are enshrined in treaties ratified by The Gambia, including the Maputo Protocol, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and continental initiatives such as the Saleema Initiative

We stand firmly in solidarity with, applaud and support organizations championing women and girls’ rights including local organizations such as The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices, The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Gambia (TANGO), youth-led organizations, and survivors themselves who are standing against the repeal.

As Generation Equality Action Coalition Leaders, and Commitment Makers, a wide network of feminist organizations and human rights defenders, we remain fully committed to supporting and ending FGM as a harmful practice globally.  We are calling all stakeholders to take a stand against the reversal of the ban on FGM in The Gambia and beyond. Protective legislation is crucial to gender equality and helps build a fair, just and equal society. We further call for the wide-scale implementation of the anti-FGM law in The Gambia, which must continue to be promoted among stakeholders including religious leaders, traditional leaders and communities to address harmful social and cultural norms. In line with the principles and ethos of Generation Equality, we call on all stakeholders to invest in and heed the calls of local civil society organizations, networks and champions which stand against FGM and for gender equality.

Stand up for gender equality and the right to health, stand up for women and girls in The Gambia and beyond, take action and end FGM.

Statement signatorie

Organizational endorsements & support

  1. Action Girls Foundation (AGF)
  2. Advance Foundation for Development Yemen
  3. Agir pour le Bien être des Enfants, Personnes Âgées et Déficientes
  4. All India Feminist Alliance (ALIFA – NAPM)
  5. Alliance Droits et Santé
  6. Amoru AIDS Support Community Initiative (ASCI)
  7. Asia Network to End FGM/C
  8. Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW)
  9. Association de Lutte contre les Violences faites aux Femmes et aux
  10. Filles Extrême Nord Cameroun (ALVFEN)
  11. Association des Personnes
  12. Patriotes du Burundi (APPBU En Sigle
  13. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA)
  14. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation
  15. Cercle des Filles pour le Développement (CFD)
  16. Chirapaq, Coordinator of Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA)
  17. Clear Vision for Change
  18. CREA
  19. Denis Miki Foundation
  20. Education As A Vaccine (EVA)
  21. Education Prénatale information 
  22. End FGM Canada Network
  23. Ensemble pour les droits à la SSR (EDSSR)
  24. Equality Now
  25. Equity Watch Initiative
  26. EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C)
  27. Fondation Des Jeunes Amazones Pour Le Developpement
  28. Fos Feminista
  29. Friday For Future MAPA
  30. Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM)
  31. Generation Initiative for Women and Youth Network (GIWYN)
  32. Girls Not Brides, The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage
  33. Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights
  34. Government of Kenya
  35. Haiti Cholera Research
  36. Funding Foundation Inc USA HCRFF
  37. Humanity Diaspo
  38. International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA)
  39. iResults
  40. Jesssy Ojoma Drive for
  41. Environmental Development Foundation
  42. KIMPAVITA
  43. Dynamique Femme Vecteur RED
  44. Stop au Chat Noir
  45. La Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits Des Femmes
  46. Lamuka Innovation Center
  47. Las Niñas Lideran
  48. Ligue Nigérienne des Droits des Femmes
  49. Malawi caring hands
  50. Malaysian Doctors for Women & Children
  51. Marème Diallo
  52. MenEngage Global Alliance
  53. Mujeres Poetas Internacional (MPI) Inc.
  54. Woman Scream Festival
  55. MY World México
  56. National Political Assembly of Indigenous Women Anpmi
  57. New Vision for Peace
  58. Observatoire-OISHC
  59. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  60. One Future Collective
  61. ONG Centre Reines Daura 
  62. ONG Jeunesse et Développement
  63. Orchid Project
  64. Organisation Féministe MARIJÀN
  65. Plan International
  66. Plan International West and Central Africa
  67. Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc
  68. Responsible Jewelry Transformative
  69. Revive Action Cameroon (REVACAM)
  70. Room to Read
  71. Rural Infrastructure & Human Resource Development Organization (RIHRDO)
  72. Sahiyo U.S.
  73. Samburu Girls Foundation, Kenya 
  74. Scarlet Udaan
  75. Spring of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SASAL)
  76. Strong Enough Girls’ Empowerment Initiative
  77. SusEd
  78. Tanzania Healthcare and Career Awareness Program(TAHECAP)
  79. The End FGM Canada Network
  80. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH)
  81. The Teddy Bear Foundation for Abused Children
  82. TIFSA Atlas Association for Sustainable Development
  83. UN Women
  84. United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
  85. United Funding and Development for Underage Mothers (UFDUM), Inc.
  86. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  87. Voix de Femmes
  88. Women Against Violence and Expediency Handling Initiative
  89. Women Deliver
  90. Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF)
  91. Women in Nexus
  92. Women in Nexus
  93. World Health Organization (WHO)
  94. YES Trust Zimbabwe
  95. Young Feminist Europe
  96. Youth Chaperon Uganda
  97. Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Individual endorsements and support

  1. Abigail Serwaa
  2. AdemSsaidi
  3. Adrienne NIYINDEREYE
  4. Afifa Sadaqat
  5. Alita Fernandez
  6. Amuri Mushabah Dieudonné Benjamin
  7. Aoife Lafferty
  8. Athira Purushothaman
  9. Benannoune fouad
  10. Berenice Arroyo Orozco
  11. Boulgriet zidane
  12. Bwambale Mandela katomera
  13. Cecilia Manyika
  14. Chansa Sulumba
  15. Chinmay Tayade
  16. Cristina Mateos
  17. Douadi lounis
  18. Emmanuel Meezoe
  19. Fatoumata Bintou Sy
  20. Floriane Klinklin Acouetey
  21. Gauri Nimbalkar
  22. Genoveva Sotirova
  23. Hamichi moussa
  24. Imen Fetoui
  25. Jawoon Kim
  26. Jessica Freitas
  27. Kaitlin Mitchell
  28. Kofi Gyamfi
  29. Kouamé yao Wilfried
  30. Kumba Leigh
  31. Laureen Ododa
  32. Lina Zdruli
  33. Luciana Vilar
  34. Lucy Usher
  35. Marème Diallo
  36. Mehari Negash
  37. Melissa Ceja Covarrubias
  38. Michael J Boadi
  39. Mohamad Abbas Mohamat Ali
  40. Mohamed Souhassou
  41. Mubarak shah Rezai
  42. Mukhlisa Solijonova Iqbol Qizi
  43. Nakabuye suubi Patricia
  44. Nakyegera Norah
  45. Olivier Kezimana
  46. Pacifique Doriane et sognonvi
  47. Pilar Revuelta
  48. Salia Nandong Fuseini
  49. Sara Fouad
  50. Sean Cartwright
  51. Stephanie Evangelista
  52. Tamara Braam
  53. Tanushree Gangopadhyay
  54. Theddy-Michel Iradukunda
  55. Vandana Satgoor
  56. Wabei Saboi
  57. Westonie Mbeweh
  58. Zongo Marina Ange Oriana

This statement is a collaboration and part of a collective commitment for the Generation Equality Action Coalitions on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence and the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership.

[1] The Gambia DHS; 2019-2020

[2] UN, 2024; International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation | United Nations