The Gambia norm and culture Vis-à-vis women and girls matriarchal/patriarchal Society
Opinion Piece by The Late Rev. Dr. John Loum
Let me be clear, conceptually, nature has it understandably that women and men are equal in every way shape, or form. Sadly, in Gambia's patriarchal society the trend has been and continued with women and girls' roles has been structurally at home and society largely defined by men. Given that, the men who are the dominant power player, functionally codified the trend, on how women/girls were to operate. At home domestically, also matrimonially as in society extending to their workplaces [ office], etc. For example, I grew up in Gambia where women and girls were not given equal opportunities as boys in gaining any education, unfairly the boys would be in the streets enjoying leisurely their time playing football, and building networks of friendships and groups, in Banjul area boys would go for swinging around the beach or playing at McCarthy square.
Cultural Barriers Limiting Women and Girls
The barrier of institutionalizing Gambian women and girls as second class or socialize domesticated spices who are to be seen as unequaled equal is dismally incrementally changing much still needs to be done. As a trend or norm must be long past gone. All forms of these institutionalized patterns of cultural norms have fizzled out gradually or obliterated.
Solutions for Women and Girls’ Inclusion
Then as we are developing strategies towards remedies and solutions, first global modernity will force on our women, or they will be left in the wind. Second women should have in place a constructive structure on the grass-root level in empowering and creating gender awareness. Along with that the goal should be re-educating and defusing much of the old ways, including cultural norms which could either be a stumbling block or an inhibition in the way of women's dignity, equal acceptance, and gender fair treatment in all spheres of human space and life.
Our Time is Now, Our rights, Our future: International Day of The girl Child 2022
The International Day of the Girl Child 2022. SaGG Foundation joins the rest of the world to observe the day, celebrated every year on October 11th.
This year marks the 10th anniversary since the declaration by the United Nations. The purpose of the observance of the day of the girl child, is to create global awareness in all areas that affect the lives of girls. Even though significant progress has been made over the years in raising awareness and enacting laws to promote gender equality. That noted, girls continue to face inequality in all areas of society, notably discrimination in education, access to medical health, proper nutrition, child labour, and protection against sexual and gender-based violence.
The celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child has led to the emergence of global, regional, and community voices of girls and young female leaders who passionately campaign for progressive laws, programmes, and policies to defend and uphold the rights of the girl child. Hence, the theme for this year aptly reflects, that Our Time is Now, our rights, our future.
The SaGG Foundation girls are pleased to share with you, why their time is Now! Read the poems and essays to find out more.
Poem by Jestina
Poem by Fatou
Poem by Arret
Poem by Elizabeth
Essay by Barakatou
Investments in girls' education and rights remain limited, and girls continue to confront a myriad of challenges to fulfilling their potential, made worse by the concurrent crises of climate change, COVID-19, and humanitarian conflict. Girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges to their education, their physical and mental wellness, and the protection needed for a life without violence.
With adversity, however, comes resourcefulness, creativity, tenacity, and resilience. The world's 600 million girls have shown that, given the skills and the opportunities, they can be the change makers driving progress in their communities, building a stronger future for all, including women, boys, and men.
International Day of the Girl Child arrives this year at an important and evolving moment in time, as girls' rights and gender equality are resurging in the public consciousness and dialogue in new, powerful, and long-overdue ways.
While attention and conversation are welcome, at the same time, girls and women everywhere continue to endure significant challenges. A range of legal, social, health, and safety challenges and their consequences, while often not widely recognized or understood, nonetheless have a highly and highly negative impact on girls and women, their families, and communities. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are still a leading cause of death among girls in developing countries.
According to recent statistics, 131 million girls are not in school. Globally, women perform 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men. Globally, about one in three women has experienced violence. And 214 million women have an unmet need for modern contraception.
While these trends may seem overwhelming, they don’t have to be permanent. Inequality, discrimination, and injustice sustain these problems; rights, empowerment, and better social norms can fix them.
Under the theme, "Our Time is Now, Our Rights, Our Future: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives,” UN Women is urging the global community “to transform the momentum into action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and to celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.
Addressing the rights and needs of girls and women everywhere has always been and will continue to be a key part of our work because it is a human rights imperative.
When a girl is safe, healthy, educated, and empowered, she creates the future she wants and a ripple effect, advancing healthier and more prosperous communities, societies, and economies.
Peom by Bertha
Artwork by Fatoumata
Poem by Fatima
Poem by Michelle
Essay by Fatou
There was a time when society thought that it was not necessary to educate girls. During earlier times, there was a distinct division between public and private life. Women were not allowed in the public sphere because they were not meant to take part in it. Since historic times, girls have been the subject of neglect, torture, and other horrific activities that cannot be ignored. Now we have begun to realize that girls’ education is essential. The modern age is the age of the awakening of women.
Education for girls is important for bringing a balance to society.
Our time is now! Girls' education has brought equality in society by bridging the gap of gender inequality.
Education can make girls self-reliant, which society used to think was a burden. Female education is the overarching term of a complex set of issues and debates surrounding education (primary, secondary, tertiary, university, and health education in particular) for girls and women. The education of women and girls is an important connection to the alleviation of poverty. Improving girls’ educational levels has been demonstrated to have clear impacts on the health and economic future of young women, which in turn improves the prospects of their entire community.
Therefore, our right to education is a must and should be valued by every society, no matter what ethnic group we might find ourselves in. Educating a girl helps her to share the responsibility of her family and reduces the burden of the head of the family, and can also help uproot social ills, such as early child marriage, honor killing, dowry payment, domestic violence, child labour and female genital mutilation.
Educated women are less likely to become victims of such improper acts. An educated woman always receives dignity and respect and remains a source of inspiration for other women and girls.
Most importantly, our future is bright with education. It improves the overall quality of a girl’s life with critical thinking and enhances learning. Subsequently, it helps a child make a better and more informed decision with the use of their knowledge. Female education is the need of the hour. With that being said, it also gives career opportunities that can increase the quality of life. However, education remains a luxury and not a necessity in our country.
In conclusion, educating the girl child is very important for the development of a nation. In The Gambia, half of the population is made up of women. We cannot prosper by ignoring this half of the population because female education is essential for the betterment of our country. Not only can a woman do everything that a man can, but also, if we become educated, we can participate in all kinds of work, and by doing this, a nation can prosper. Every society should learn to respect girls and women first because this is "Our Time, our rights, our future."
Your Feeback is welcomed
Thank you for visiting our blog site and for reading the poems and essays written by our girls. We hope you have been inspired and enlightened about why girls should be empowered to claim their rights. Girls' rights should be everyone's business.
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Mentorship For Girls
Mentoring girls can help them reach their full potential in education and career development. In a world of climate change, rising seas, and economic downturns, a world of a global pandemic and stunted education systems, girls are peering over the distance at a future that appears increasingly to be a mirage. How would girls aspire for something they can’t see or imagine? Where do they find the motivation to discover in a context of uncertainty? Girls can often find some of those answers in a mentor. A mentor is someone whom girls can speak to out loud, about their fears and uncertainty which often live in their heads and haunt their hearts.
1) What is girls’ mentorship?
Mentorship is a process where girls reflect and share thoughts about their development prospects and career potential with a person who’s an expert in that field. However, there is much more explanation behind this short description. A mentor is a person who guides you through all the uncertainties and unanswered questions in your head, such as:
“Where should I seek motivation during the hectic times we live in? How can I aspire for things if I am not sure about my future?”
Girls’ mentorship is like a strong shoulder girls can lean on whenever they feel confused about life. Mentors play a huge role in their lives and can be of great help in numerous situations.
A mentor is:
2) What are the benefits of mentorship?
To have a mentor is to have someone you can speak out loud to, about fears and uncertainty which often live in your head and haunt your heart. It is a person who will read your CV and offer the distinction between dialogue and professional writing. They will be able to lift your competence from your life experiences and build your self-worth and self-love.
A mentor can see your potential and present you with the million possibilities that you could transform it into. But mentoring has many more benefits beyond the girls’ personal growth, it can benefit their career choices as well. The advantages are numerous, and in this article, we'll list the more important for us:
Benefits of becoming a Mentee as a girl
There are significant advantages for girls to have mentors, whether they are starting their career or they want to enhance their skills and abilities.
Expert advice on One-on-One basis
A mentor has earned professional training and technical skills, which they can teach girls. They can help girls with people skills, managing time and strategic partnerships, among other skills.
Professional advancement at a faster pace
Mentors can figure out how long it takes to complete major career advancement over time. They can help girls accomplish similar goals and provide guidance to help them avoid possible pitfalls. Mentors can also keep track of the progress that they are making in areas that they want to develop in from career to personal development.
Increased opportunity for networking:
A mentor can connect girls with other industry leaders, broadening their career network. Their mentor may even be able to recommend them for new positions, training courses, or promotions to others.
A mentor can assist girls in being more motivated and inspired. By reminding themselves what they're striving for by taking their mentor as an example. The personal encouragement of the mentor would boost girls’ confidence and eagerness to explore different things.
Depending on the girl's career path, a mentor may volunteer to examine or analyse their performance. They have worked in the sector before and can provide girls with a personalised assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. They can then collaborate with them to develop a tailored strategy for girls’ success.
3) How can girls be mentored?
Girls can be mentored by giving them a horizon of perspectives in their career or personal life in a non-judgmental way, without instructing or narrowing their pathway. Emily Joof explains "A mentor helps you find the answers to your questions as well as takes you outside the box to inspire but also offers you to be a version of yourself that you thought didn't exist. For example I was coached when I didn't believe I had an aptitude for Math in school and encouraged me to play basketball even though I reach no higher than 1,5 meters tall"
One of the most important skills a girl can have is confidence but unfortunately, 79% of women have admitted that they lack self-esteem (wear the city). Mentoring can help increase self-awareness which results in girls to realise their potential, therefore increasing confidence. This can be done by asking smart questions. For example, in a TED article, the mentor asked the mentee, “Could you please ask all the questions instead of me?” to which she then replied “why?” and the mentor explained, “Because I need to know what questions to ask.” In this dialogue, you can see how the mentor is trying to take layers off her shell by asking the right questions. My Mentor lifted my chin when I had no work experience and believed I had nothing to offer an employer. They reminded me that speaking three languages, travelling to 7 countries, leading Model UN, and Captaining my Basketball team was just as important to present to the world as experience.
Communication skills, career guidance and overcoming hurdles in life are reasons why people turn towards mentoring. Emily said "I only knew a few careers due to restricted traditions and culture; law, medicine and accountancy. My mentor helped me open a whole new world of art, history, anthropology and sociology. The words “yes you can be an author” even when I knew nothing about creative writing and was about to dive headfirst into the world of publishing with no safety ring". Did you know that Maya Angelou was mentoring Oprah Winfrey? This shows to say, even the most successful people need a hand to hold onto so don't feel disheartened when you feel you need help or guidance.
There will be many instances where changes in life can shake up our routine which could make us feel uncomfortable. This could be becoming a new mother. Someone told me breastfeeding was hard and offered tricks and tips to help which was a type of mentorship. Family issues are another reason to visit a mentor. Engaging the family via mentoring to improve relationships is critical for the mentor, mentee, and family's experience. Parents should realise that the mentor is there to assist in the development of a connection with the child, not to take the place of the parent. The child should find a sense of support and encouragement from those loving people, if the mentor and the family maintain open contact and participate in events and activities on a regular basis.
There are different types of mentoring techniques which will be dependent on the individual:
(Phone, email or text) is one that is at each person's convenience and can be in the comfort of your own home. However, if your home environment is not conducive, there are other options available which will be discussed later in the course of this blog. Online mentoring programmes can help connect more than two mentors with the mentee to provide another aspect. There would be a higher chance of availability which also saves travelling and the environment. Mentees can easily access their mentors this way.
Face to Face mentorship
Is the type of mentoring you can get the most out of depending on your needs. 60-80% of communication in these sessions is body language based which improves trust more than virtual communication. There will be more engagement and less likely to be distracted (together platform).
Group mentoring session
Expose you to other people's experiences and connect on a personal level. These sessions can be suitable for individuals struggling to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Group mentoring can be more engaging and take you out of your comfort zone and grow. However there are cons of this type as well; not getting one to one, perhaps limited confidentiality due to group or competition amongst group members (mentoring complete)a
The ideal way for mentees and mentors to work together is to set mutually pre - defined goals. Be completely open and clear with your mentor about your job ambitions or objectives, personal qualities, and places for development.
It's possible to have an informal or formal mentor connection. We recommend having an informal tone of voice, as when questions arise, having a direct chat could be more helpful. We also suggest interacting on a routine basis at least once a week to keep the mentor informed on any news or updates.
4) Who can mentor girls? And in what areas?
As professionals, parents, careers and humans we can easily take on this challenge, to hold open our palms and offer girls a piece of your time, share our reflections, learnings and knowledge, Emily describes. A great mentor can see the potential and present in girls with a million possibilities that could help girls to transform. A great mentor can also have a massive impact on your chosen stream. But here comes the question of who can mentor girls, to the defined path they want? Well here are some of the individuals that can mentor girls and what kind of areas potential mentors can provide mentorship with:
These are some of the examples but other individuals can mentor and guide girls on the path to success. With a mentors' magical powers, they can get girls to believe that a tiny wooden stick filled with lead can make marks that another can read as words. -Emily.
Let us know in the comments how Mentorship has impacted and supported you in your career or in life in general
Find Out More:
Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls
Watch Powerful Conversations
Watch the series of the powerful conversations with our girls. The female guest speakers discussed on entrepreneurship, finance, Confidence-building, career and passion, and more...
Poems About Girls' Rights
To celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child 2022. Our girls shared poems, essays and artwork on the theme for this year's celebration. Our Future is Now. Our Rights, Our Future...
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Myths Of Girls' Education
News And Updates
The SaGG Foundation (Sponsor a Gambian Girl) is a girl’s education movement, with aim of championing the cause for girl child education in The Gambia. Education is a basic human right; our vision is to advocate and champion for girls' education.