By Abdoulie Nget
In a bid to encourage girls’ education, The Forum for African Women Educationalist (FAWEGAM) on Monday started a five-day unique mentoring program called “Take Our Daughters to Work 2011” at the Gambia Pastoral Institute (GPI) at Kairaba Avenue.
The program which attempts to combat obstacles facing girls’ education and encourage them to take their education seriously brought together 20 upper basic school girls across the country.
During the coming days, participants are expected to brainstorm over issues affecting the life of the girl child such as peer pressure, early marriage and low self esteem.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Absatou Saidy Camara, the Assistant Coordinator of FAWEGAM said the program brought girls from the rural areas to stay with professional women from whom they will learn a lot.
“FAWEGAM will give the girls’ the opportunity to stay with women from different careers like police, lawyers, head teachers, doctors, engineers, managing directors, seamstresses, army officers, bankers, education officers, agriculturist, among others,” she said.
She commended UNICEF for their unflinching support.
Kadijatou Jallow Baldeh, the Chairperson of FAWEGAM, said the importance of education to a human being cannot be over emphasized.
“Education is human rights that should be accorded to all human beings. The program is to encourage girls to take their education seriously, by introducing them to female role models who are combining their careers with family life.
“Today we are facing global and technological changes that are greater than ever faced before and no nation or individual can independently control his or her destiny. There are changes lying ahead that are beyond reality,” she said.
Mrs Baldeh then encouraged the participants to make good use of the opportunity and be hard working in life.
Aichatou Diawara-Flambert UNICEF representative in The Gambia said UNICEF’s interest in girls’ education stems from a right perspective.
“In girls’ education in particular we believe that there is no more essential foundation for women’s empowerment than education of girls,” she said.
Globally, she said there are 121 million children who have never seen the inside of a classroom. She went on to quote Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general as saying “…to educate a girl is to educate the whole Family, and what is true of families is also true of communities and, ultimately, the whole countries.”
According to her, basic education also enhances a woman’s income-generating capacity and emboldens her to claim her rights and those of her children.
“it gives young woman a sense of personal empowerment and self-confidence to make decision that affects her life. Society as a whole benefit from girls’ education,” she said.
The United state Ambassador Pamela White , the United States Ambassador to The Gambia highlighted the significant of girls education.
She urged girls to dream about their future before deciding what to do. She reiterated that to educate a girl means educating the world.