In observance of the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), a pivotal international period dedicated to advocating for the end of violence against women and girls, we take a moment to revisit our groundbreaking event – the All Men Summit (AMS 2019) – a first-of-its-kind initiative in The Gambia. Serving as a significant milestone in the fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the country, this reflective piece explores the profound impact of uniting 100 men on one stage to deliberate their pivotal role as stakeholders in eradicating sexual and gender-based violence.
Challenging Deep-Seated Norms
At its core, the AMS 2019 aimed to challenge deeply ingrained societal norms by providing a platform for diverse young men to engage in open, honest discussions about gender roles, societal expectations, and the intricate dynamics of SGBV. Prior to the summit, a palpable culture of silence surrounded SGBV issues. This departure from convention marked a significant shift in the activism landscape, fostering an environment where the silence surrounding SGBV could be broken. The summit's design, with its emphasis on candid conversations, provided an empowering stage for individuals to share their experiences, concerns, and hopes for a future free from sexual and gender-based violence. These personal narratives became catalysts for change, resonating far beyond the confines of the summit venue.
Transformative Impact: Voices Turned into Action
The impact of the summit was not ephemeral; it marked the commencement of a transformative journey. The pledge made by the 100 men in attendance was not merely symbolic; it translated into tangible action. Many of these men, impassioned by the summit's discussions, have since become integral parts of organisations actively engaged in the fight against SGBV, transforming from bystanders to vocal advocates in their communities. The impact cascaded beyond individual actions, reaching the broader community.
The summit catalysed the formation of community advocacy groups, creating a network of voices dedicated to raising awareness and combating SGBV at the grassroots level. These groups became change agents, amplifying the call for societal transformation. The All Men Summit (AMS) 2019 was undoubtedly a watershed moment in The Gambia's advocacy against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. However, its significance lies not only in its historical impact but in the enduring commitment it has inspired. The journey embarked upon during the summit is not a one-time event but a continuous commitment to nurturing change and fostering gender equality.
Building Lasting Foundations: Post-Summit Initiatives
Following the All Men Summit 2019 (AMS 2019), Girls Talk Organisation remains steadfast in its commitment to combat SGBV in The Gambia. Post-summit, our initiatives have evolved into comprehensive programs addressing the root causes of SGBV, with a specific emphasis on empowering women and girls.
Our targeted training programs aim to enhance the knowledge and awareness of women and girls regarding their rights. These workshops provide participants with valuable insights into recognising and reporting instances of violence, fostering a culture of empowerment and resilience. Central to our efforts is the mentorship program, playing a pivotal role in building the confidence of young girls. By connecting them with experienced mentors, we create a supportive environment where girls can seek guidance, gain valuable life skills, and envision a future free from the constraints of gender-based violence.
Acknowledging the importance of equipping girls with practical skills, we have held a self-defense class for our mentees with a trained facilitator. This session was intended to empower girls with knowledge of simple yet effective techniques to defend themselves, promoting a sense of autonomy and security.
Our commitment extends to raising awareness about SGBV in local communities through targeted campaigns. Our aim is to challenge stereotypes, break the silence surrounding violence, and encourage open conversations about the importance of gender equality. Our dedication to education, empowerment, and awareness serves as an unyielding commitment to fostering positive and lasting change. Through these initiatives, Girls Talk Organisation strives to contribute to a safer and more equitable future for women and girls in The Gambia, ensuring that the flame ignited during the summit continues to burn brightly in the ongoing journey toward gender equality.
Policy Advocacy: Influencing Systemic Change
In the pursuit of eradicating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Girls Talk Organisation is committed to fostering systemic change through policy advocacy. This dedication extends beyond individual actions, directing advocacy efforts toward influencing policies that address gender inequalities and safeguard the rights of women and girls. The sustained commitment aims to establish an environment where legal frameworks actively contribute to creating a society free from SGBV.
A significant stride in this commitment is Girls Talk's recent project, "Project Leadify." This initiative is a crucial step in building the capacities of girls and young women to become influential leaders capable of effecting policy change. Aligned with the broader commitment to eradicating SGBV, the project's objective is to empower girls and young women with political knowledge and advocacy skills, positioning them to influence policy
decisions. By fostering leadership qualities, "Project Leadify" actively contributes to the overarching goal of creating an environment where legal frameworks work proactively to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence from society. This multifaceted approach, seamlessly combining policy advocacy and leadership development, underscores Girls Talk Organisation's dedication to addressing the root causes of SGBV and catalysing lasting change in the societal landscape.
Acknowledging the Progress and Navigating the Path Forward
Recognising the strides made in addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and fostering gender equality, it is imperative to acknowledge that there is still a considerable distance to cover on the journey towards gender parity. Girls Talk Organisation acknowledges the collective effort required to bridge this gap and emphasises the need for everyone to be actively involved in this ongoing journey.
As the commitment to ending SGBV and promoting gender equality perseveres, Girls Talk Organisation extends a resounding call to action. The involvement of individuals, communities, and organisations in this collective effort is not only encouraged but vital. Each voice, every contribution, and every shared story plays a pivotal role in shaping a future where SGBV is eradicated, and equality prevails. The ongoing commitment invites everyone to be an active participant in this transformative movement.