President Barrow Commends UNICEF for Supporting Development Agenda State House

Banjul, 18h March 2024:  H E. President Barrow applauded UNICEF for supporting education, health and other development areas during the first bilateral meeting with the Country Representative, Ms. Nafisa Binte Shafique at the State House in Banjul.

 Several pertinent issues were discussed, such as child rights, education, investing in the well-being of girls and the repeal of the FGM law.

 President Barrow congratulated Ms Shafique on her recent appointment and thanked UNICEF for supporting the country, particularly in education, health, water and sanitation. “The youth need to be supported to prepare them for the future. Education and skills development are key to empowering them,” he noted.

 Speaking to the press, Ms Shafique said she is optimistic about the outcome of the meeting with President Barrow, and she assured to uphold the rights of every child, particularly girls and women who are fighting for their rights, and how to take The Gambia forward. “We will make The Gambia outshine,” she said.

The UNICEF Country Representative further took the opportunity to express her concern over the attempts to repeal the Women’s Act, which prohibits FGM in The Gambia. Responding to the concerns on the call to repeal the Anti-FGM Act, President Barrow said people are allowed to express themselves in a democracy. “it is unfortunate that The Gambia is in the limelight for the wrong reason.

We are aware that FGM is sensitive because of religion and culture, and people are not very enlightened. We use diplomacy because we don’t want to go backwards; instead, we think of moving forward.”

 Ms Shafique took the opportunity to congratulate President Barrow for winning the African Peace Promoter Prize for 2024. She added she was proud of the President’s leadership for children. She emphasised that The Gambia has a young population and needs to invest in them. She raised concern that The Gambia has not submitted its periodic report on the Convention on the Rights of Children – CRC for the last three years, urging the Government to submit the report as UNICEF is working with various sections on a new country programme on adolescent development from birth certification to governance.