TYW and British Embassy Host Inter-generational Dialogue on GBV and Child Protection

Think Young Women, with funding from the British Embassy in The Gambia, has rolled out a three-day National Inter-generational Dialogue on Gender-Based Violence and Child Protection at the Paradise Suites Hotel.

The dialogue is part of our ongoing project supported through the Bilateral Partnership Fund of the UK Government. We’ve brought together 50 women from all regions of The Gambia, representing the younger and older generations. The women will engage in conversations on Gender-Based Violence, Child Protection, Child Marriage and a range of other related issues.

For the next three days, we’ll share stories, discuss the issues we face in our communities and also benefit from coaching sessions led by experts and experienced personnel from partner organisations.

The Dialogue was officially opened by the British Ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency Colin Crorkin.

50 women, 6 regions, 1 country. Different voices, different stories, one struggle. Together we can bridge the gap and create solutions to the challenges we face as women and girls in The Gambia. In our space, we share these stories, we discuss solutions, we laugh, we sing, we dance, we cry, we cheer one another up, we stand together. We will lead the change we envision.

You can see more pictures from Day 1 and Day 2 of the dialogue.

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.

 

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

TYW Admin Officer in South Korea for 2nd Youth Leadership Workshop on GCED

Our Administrative Officer, Sainabou Nyang, is one of 45 youth leaders from across the world selected to attend the 2nd Youth Leadership Workshop on Global Citizenship Education (GCED) in Busan, South Korea.

The workshop provides “a global platform for youth to share and discuss how they can contribute to building a more equal, just, prosperous and peaceful world by leading, advocating for and monitoring the successful achievement of Target 4.7.”

Sainabou is contributing to the development of effective leadership strategies for GCED and advocacy, as well as collaborative action plans. While doing all this, she is proudly sharing her culture with fellow participants and learning from them too. What better way to advance a true global citizenship agenda?

We at Think Young Women are immensely proud of Sainabou!