Celebrating our Brave Girls!

We’re starting this week with a great sense of gratitude and immense pride, as we celebrate our brave girls! The GABECE (Grade 9 Exams) results are out and our ladies are shining like the stars they are.

Today, we celebrate 4 of them who bagged the much-desired Aggregate 6, taking their places as the top students in the country.

Ancha, Fatima, Oumie and Rejoice are all pupils of St. Theresa’s Upper Basic School, as well as brave girls in our #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme. We’ll be sharing more results from the girls as we get them.

Ancha
Fatima
Oumie
Rejoice

Join us to celebrate these brilliant ladies. We can’t wait to see what the next phase of their journey looks like.

4th #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme – Week 3

Ready, Set, Soar!

It’s already Week 3 of the 4th session in our #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme! This week, we discussed Gender-Based Violence, with a specific focus on Violence Against Women and Girls.

We’re working with a unique group of 80 girls from different backgrounds, and understand the realities of the society we live in, as far as gender is concerned. Guided by the mentors, the girls worked in groups to discuss GBV, its different forms, how to protect themselves, and where to go to seek help. We were pleasantly surprised by how much they already know, and inspired by their ever-growing desire to learn more.

Our exercises in trust-building last week came in handy as they worked together to determine safe spaces among their groups, in their homes and schools, and within their immediate communities. They explored the concepts of sex, gender and gender roles, and what roles they can play in breaking the cycle of inequalities that often place girls and women at a disadvantage.

As mentors, we are always happy to learn from the girls and their experiences, as this helps us to keep providing them with the support and services they need to thrive and serve their communities. Certainly creating a new generation of women leaders!

Special thanks to UNFPA The Gambia for supporting us on this journey, and to State of Mic for the fun photo session.

TYW Launches 4th Edition of Girls Mentorship Programme

The 4th session of our Girls’ Mentorship Programme has started, and we’re super excited! This cohort brings together 80 girls from Gambia Methodist Academy, Ndow’s Comprehensive, Kanifing East Upper Basic and Latrikunda Upper Basic Schools.

Today, we held the first session at L.K school, where the girls and our mentors had a chance to get to know one another, discover expectations and fears, as well as create guidelines for the next three months of our journey together.

We look forward to an amazing and inspiring time as we engage on issues relating to the lives of adolescent girls, while supporting them to discover their talents and use them to serve their communities and the country. We hope that the girls will make the best use of the safe space we have created to overcome their fears, beat the challenges, and thrive.

We continue to appreciate UNFPA The Gambia for their support, and for believing in our dream and mission to inspire and create a new generation of young women leaders. You can follow weekly updates from the programme online through the #TYW4Girls hashtag.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

3rd #TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme – Week 2

It’s Week 2 of our TYW4Girls Mentorship Programme, and it’s been a very exciting Saturday morning!We had more girls and mentors joining the group today, and went through fun introductions, with very interesting questions from the girls.

They also had a chance to share the results of their homework from last week which tasked them to identify an issue affecting girls and women in their community and think of what they can do to change that. One theme that kept coming up was the concern for girls who fall victim to sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation by older men. The girls linked these mainly to the underprivileged backgrounds of the affected persons, creating an opportunity for exploitation without much consequence on the perpetrators. The group shared inspiring perspectives on how they can support their friends, create safe spaces for dialogue and guidance, as well as contribute to holding these men accountable for their actions.

We also had discussions on the notions of gender, sex, gender roles, violence, and other connected themes. The girls explored these concepts, and how they fit into their lives, gaining a better understanding of the society around them.

The beautiful space we’ve created and the inspiring work happening there is made possible with the support of UNFPA The Gambia.

TYW Kicks Off 3rd Edition of Girls Mentorship Programme

Think Young Women has launched the third edition of our Girls Mentorship Programme, targeting a total of 60 girls from Latrikunda Upper Basic School, St. Theresa’s Upper Basic School and Glory Baptist Upper Basic School.

When girls win, the world wins! We’re taking this giant leap a third time and will yield even bigger and better results!

Every week, for the next three months, our mentors will work with these girls in clusters, guiding them through discussions and practical training on personal development, public speaking, sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as information sessions on gender-based violence, with a focus on FGM and Child Marriage. The girls will make use of this safe space we have created to discuss often difficult topics and find solutions to the challenges they face. They will build strong relationships and start a 60 girl-strong sisterhood and network, with the assistance of their mentors and the wider TYW team.

Will my sisters catch me when I fall? Can I trust them to keep me safe?

The first day was filled with excitement! We were blown away by the expectations listed by the girls and challenged to meet these expectations, while ensuring that we nurture the safe space to deal with the fears they also shared with us. A wonderful team, and it’s only Week One.

Team building exercise on trust. We’ll need that for more positive relationships and great networks!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for weekly updates from our sessions! The programme is made possible through the support of UNFPA The Gambia, to whom we owe much gratitude, on behalf of these girls!

#TYW4Girls