Member Spotlight: Fatou Bintou Sallah
- What first got you interested in youth issues?
Growing up as a female in Africa, where boundaries and restriction are laid either clearly or impliedly on what a woman can do or say, and to what extent she can go to achieve her dreams, I knew I had to make a difference. I got interested because I wanted to make a change in my society, continent, and world at large especially in the lives of women and children. The tool that was at my disposal was advocacy on issues that often times were swept under the carpet, such issues like low levels of girls education, early marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), domestic violence and abuse amongst others. I felt that if we the youths come together with a stance on these issues, it will make all the difference. Because recently the government of The Gambia imposed a ban on FGM, an ancient practice that had been a norm for generations immemorial
2. Groups & Activities you are involved in
- i. Think Young Women- Assistant Secretary General
TYW actively addresses issues affecting young women by building their leadership skills by implementing trainings and seminars, and strengthening their voices to create more impact and support to achieve women’s rights. TYW has also provided the space to empower and uplift young women to be able to speak out against issues affecting them such as Violence against Women, most importantly FGM. Most notable of our activities is the organizing of a National Youth Forum on FGM every year where youths from all over the Gambia and all relevant stake holders convene to discuss and brainstorm on ways forward for issues affecting young women and girls; to which at the end, a communiqué is developed to be submitted to the government of The Gambia. Other activities include showing solidarity with other young women around the world who have their rights violated, one such activity was the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign in solidarity with our sisters in Nigeria. Additionally, another tool we constantly use is the media; radios and tv but most importantly social media where a lot of impact has been made.
ii. Give 1 Project- Executive Secretary
The GIVE1 Project is a global non-profit, voluntary and development oriented organization that aims to engage young people as leaders in creating and building strong and healthy communities. Some of the activities include a monthly Give1 talk where specific guests are invited to talk to the young people on a variety of topics that are meant to help in molding their lives. -Quarterly tech-camps for girls in high schools where they are training on computer software and hardware which is geared to encourage young girls to venture into technology fields which is a male dominated field considering the number of women involved in this part of the world. – We also run a farm in one of the rural villages to encourage people to grow what they eat and inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in the youths.
3. Situation in my Country
Both organizations namely Give1 Project and Think Young Women address some of the pertinent issues in my country. Currently, there are laws in place protecting children and young women but there is a huge divide in sensitization as in people do not know that there are provisions that protect them from violation and abuse and so the status quo of domestic violence, early marriage and so on continues. TYW comes in by doing mass sensitization on people’s protected rights and the avenues to use to obtain redress in the event a right is violated.
Give1 Project’s main aim is to reduce the incidence of unemployment amongst recent graduates which is a major problem globally but a growing trend in the country by encouraging entrepreneurship through trainings and seminars and motivating the youths especially girls to venture into different careers that youths usually shy away from.
4. Policy or law reform
That there is stricter enforcement of existing legislation especially in relation to the most vulnerable groups in society who often times are voiceless and cannot stand up for themselves.
5. Favourite quote and why?
“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” – Aristotle
Because I am a die-hard fan of the rule of law and I believe that all men are equal regardless of social status, race or creed and should be treated as such. And indeed law and justice is a necessary element in society, otherwise mankind may easily fall into anarchy.