Our Girls Have Graduated!

Following three months of weekly training, bonding, inspiration and a beautiful sisterhood, our 40 brave girls have graduated from the third session of our Girls’ Mentorship Programme.

It’s been an incredible journey, and we couldn’t have been prouder of how far we have come with these amazing ladies from St. Theresa’s Upper Basic and Latrikunda Upper Basic Schools. Their performances at the graduation ceremony were a strong testimony of the journey we have shared with them, and we are excited to see what they do next.

We thank everyone who has supported us and the girls, as well as all partners who honored our invitation to celebrate our brave girls. Special mention to UNFPA The Gambia for believing in our vision to create a new generation of strong, bold, fearless and brave young women leaders. The stories from these girls speak for themselves.We are grateful!

Check out our Facebook album for more pictures.

 

TYW’s Aji Sainey Kah is Gambia’s 2017 MILEAD Fellow

We have exciting news!

Our Aji Sainey Kah has been selected as the 2017 MILEAD Fellow from The Gambia by the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa!

She made the list of 25 Most Outstanding Emerging Young African Women Leaders, after a competitive application process, and will bring great value to the network of MILEAD Fellows!

Think Young Women is absolutely proud of Aji Sainey, and will continue to support her journey as an exemplary leader! Congratulations!

TYW Booth Campaign on FGM in URR

Think Young Women recently secured funding from Amplify Change to implement activities contributing to the work being done to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia.

As part of this agreement, TYW is conducting a market sensitization & data collection exercise on FGM, dubbed the Booth Campaign. Our data collectors are hard at work, administering questionnaires to gauge the perception of the people on FGM.

We have a team of trained specialists also speaking to people on the harmful effects of FGM, and how we all have a role to play to #EndFGM.

 

International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM 2016

Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Building a solid and interactive bridge between Africa and the world to accelerate ending FGM by 2030”.

Globally, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. The Gambia records the highest prevalence of FGM among girls aged 14 and younger. Many girls are still at risk of getting cut.

At Think Young Women, we remain committed to using the best approaches to reach practicing communities with empowering messages, and help to change their perceptions on FGM. Empowering them with information on the harmful effects of FGM places them in a position to make informed decisions to abandon the practice and protect girls and women.

We take this opportunity to thank our friends, partners and donors for the support given to us to reach young people with positive messages to inspire an end to FGM in a generation. We appreciate the assistance from UNFPA The Gambia and . Your contributions have been immeasurable.

We believe that when we come together and employ various means and approaches, we can end FGM. It starts with us.

3rd #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme – Week 9

Did you miss our girls?

The #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme has reached its 9th week, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to connect with these girls who bring so much of themselves to the class, while remaining eager to learn new things.

Today, we had a quick stock-taking session, asking the girls to share what the program has meant to them so far, and how they’ll make use of the knowledge and experiences gained in the three months. We were thankful to read through their thoughts, and encouraged by their zeal to pay it forward.

Our discussion topic today was Child Protection, looking at definitions and various types, and focusing on Child Labour and Child Sex Tourism. These are both pressing and timely issues as we usher in the new tourist season, and also see more children being forced into labour for various reasons. The girls, led by Sister Mariama Johm, discussed the various concepts and thought of the ways in which they can contribute to efforts to reduce the number of children facing these issues.

Our goal is to keep opening their minds up to the realities around them, guiding them to make the right decisions, and providing them with the information they need to protect themselves and thrive. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of UNFPA The Gambia, our great partners in the journey to fulfill our vision for girls and women in The Gambia.

Enjoy the pictures from Week 9.

TYW, British Embassy Splash Greater Banjul Area With Powerful Billboards on GBV

Have you seen our billoards? They’re all over town, and for a great cause too!

As part of our ongoing project with the British Embassy in Banjul, we’ve erected five billboards within the Greater Banjul Area and West Coast Region, with poignant messages on the role of youth in ending Gender-Based Violence.

On Monday, the British Ambassador Colin Crorkin, accompanied by staff of the British Embassy in The Gambia, visited one of the sites to inspect the billboards. We expect that these messages will stick in the minds of people and inspire action to end GBV and protect girls and women.

We thank the British Embassy Banjul for their support of the work we do at Think Young Women.

3rd #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme – Week 5

Today was all about love and sisterhood at our Girls’ Mentorship Programme. We’ve already been together for 5 weeks, and are building relationships that will go beyond this project. Time flies when you’re having a good time, and that’s exactly how we feel with the amazing girls we work with every Saturday at Latrikunda Upper Basic School. Today, we welcomed even more students and a new mentor! Welcome on board Ya Mallen Jagne!

The session today focused on leadership and decision-making, in line with our vision to inspire and create a new generation of young women leaders. Our discussions centered on the meaning of leadership, branching out to its different types, the qualities of a good leader, and solutions to bad leadership. It is without doubt that this is taking root in the minds of the girls, who were challenged through several means to question leadership models beginning with themselves and expanding into what they see around them.

We were happy to know that many of the girls hold leadership positions in their schools and are handling them well, despite the challenges. Some shared the conflicts they have with friends due to their insistence on the respect of school rules and regulations. Some shared experiences of being intimidated or threatened for fulfilling the duties as leaders, and because of factors like size and gender. They all understood that these are issues that come with the positions they hold, and this sharing session helped us to segue smoothly into the second part of our discussion, which focused on decision-making and problem-solving.

The girls were introduced to the ideal method of problem-solving and then split into four groups to work on different scenarios and devise solutions to them. They came up with creative and very thoughtful ways of dealing with these issues, which are possible situations they could face at this stage in their lives. Each group presented their results and the girls took turns to analyze these results and ask questions to better understand the reasoning behind these choices.

We also took time to celebrate our volunteer mentor Ngenarr-Yassin Jeng, TYW Communications Officer, who turns a new age today. The girls sang, read poems and danced for, and with Ngenarr and the other mentors. A great outpouring of love to end a great day. We can’t wait for Week 6!

Thanks to UNFPA The Gambia for making this experience possible for us and for the girls. Truly investing in teenage girls to harness the demographic dividend.

3rd #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme – Week 4

It’s been four weeks of active engagement with the girls in our mentorship programme, and we are incredibly proud of the journey so far.

Today, we had even more girls joining the group, drawing closer to our target of 60 girls from 3 Upper Basic Schools in the Greater Banjul Area. The usual round of introductions were spiced up with interesting facts from the newcomers, opening up the space to recap on our activities from last week.

This week, our session focused on puberty and the conversation was led by our Sainabou Nyang and Aji Isatou Saho, both experienced peer health educators. The girls kicked off with group discussions to define puberty and identify the various changes that occur in the bodies of girls and boys who’ve reached the age of puberty. 

Group 1 discussing the changes that occur in boys during puberty.

The girls went further to list the similarities and differences in these changes for the two groups; their responses aligned with our objective to gauge their understanding of these issues and determine the course of our conversation. We were particularly impressed by the great knowledge they already had on the subject.

Group 2 discussing the changes that occur in girls during puberty.

In the four hours we spent together, we were able to discuss menstruation, hygiene, virginity and safe sex, providing guidance for these teenagers who have reached the age of experimentation and are, therefore, most in need of accurate information on their sexual and reproductive health. The girls shared experiences on their first menstruation cycles, expressing sentiments of surprise, confusion and excitement at various levels. This part of the conversation took a while as we discussed the best/most convenient brands of sanitary pads to use during menstruation. Our mentors shared their experiences and useful tips to make sure we all purchase the right products and provide the necessary care for our bodies.

Our discussions further strengthened our belief in the need to have these spaces for girls, where conversations can be had without risk of judgement or shame. The issues raised during each session have been crucial to building the knowledge and understanding of the girls on a range of social issues that affect them directly and indirectly.

Play and games to take a break from the serious sessions.

It’s been four weeks and we are very proud to see how much the girls have grown, how much maturity they bring to the conversations, and how they have chosen to stand by one another through the journey and beyond. That’s four weeks worth celebrating!

3rd #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme – Week 3

Three is our magic number! Today, we held the third session of our #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme, funded by UNFPA The Gambia, and it keeps getting better.

We are one. We are together.

The girls started with a recap on last week’s session, sharing the lessons they’ve learned and giving an opportunity for the new intakes to catch up with the work we have done together so far. The discussions centered on understanding gender, sex and gender roles in relation to our current social context.

Today’s session took the girls a step further, examining the concept of Gender-Based Violence, what it means, its different forms, what they can do to seek help and how they can support one another. We discussed several scenarios, some based on true stories, and the girls shared their thoughts on these examples and had great debates to defend their thoughts.

Mentors Anna and Aji Sainey share knowledge on GBV, with a focus on the legal perspective.

Understanding GBV also linked to discussions on masculinity and femininity, with a focus on the former and the harm it can cause when perceived wrongly. The girls spent a considerable amount of time debating these issues and eventually arriving at a general understanding that one’s gender should not be a determinant of what they know or how they act.

Mentee Fatima talks about what she learnt last week, focusing on gender and gender roles.

Because these topics are tricky and can get very emotional, we also talked about creating safe spaces and being the support systems our sisters need to get through tough situations. Our photo of the week represents this value, where we all stand together, bonded by our common struggles, ready to support one another through life.

Personal reflections, even as we stood linked in a chain of sisterhood.