Gambian Girls Matter is a youth led project developed in response to what was felt by youth leader Fatoumatta Baldeh to be an urgent need to raise awareness about the need for societal improvements in the safety and health of Gambian women and the development of practical bottom-up solutions. The group began in 2021 and actively hold workshops in schools, at local gatherings and events, where young women and men openly discuss diverse subjects such as Female Genital Mutation, reproductive health and school violence. The information and solutions that emerge from these discussions are documented and shared with future participants.
Young women face immense health and safety barriers in everyday life in the Gambia. In the Gambia maternal mortality is ranked among the highest in Africa, estimated at 1050 per 100,000 live births. 25.7% of Gambian girls are married by 18 and it is estimated that 10.4% of married women are subjected to intimate physical or sexual violence yearly. Whilst the constitution enshrines equal opportunities for women and men, in practice the male-dominant norms are rarely challenged, and gender equality issues are rarely discussed.
The group also organise their own events where workshops are facilitated by passionate young people with specialist higher education in healthcare, administration or science. The Gambia Girls Matter project not only aims to raise awareness for the present but also to sow seeds of change for the future.