An official website of the United States government

Country of the Week: The Gambia
July 13, 2017

The Gambia is situated around the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake, which carves a narrow path from the country’s heartland to the Atlantic coastline.

Although geographically small, The Gambia is comprised of diverse cultural influences and shares ties with many West African countries. As The Gambia continues to modernize, its traditional aspects, such as indigenous forms of dress and social gatherings, as well as an emphasis on family structure, remain essential to everyday life. From dancing to music to cuisine, The Gambia is home to a fusion of unique practices and popular culture.

Undoubtedly, the most impressive attribute of The Gambia is its people. You and the other remarkable members of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network continue to shape meaningful change towards a beautiful future. Because of your excellent work, The Gambia is the YALI Network #CountryoftheWeek!

Keep reading for three inspiring stories about combating gender-specific stereotypes, fighting climate change, and empowering youth through awareness campaigns throughout The Gambia.

[vc_text_separator title=”Combating gender stereotypes” title_align=”separator_align_left” color=”grey”]

Juma Baldeh leads by example, encouraging women throughout The Gambia to pursue careers in the technology industry.

Juma studied hard to become a successful product engineer, committing herself to her academic career and valuing the significance of an education . She founded HackathonGirls Club, Banjul, where she mentors and supports young women in her community to overcome stereotypes and eventually achieve desired employment. The Club teaches web literacy, basic IT skills, and programming languages to girls ages eight to 18.

Woman looking over children's shoulders as they work on a computer
Woman looking over children’s shoulders as they work on a computer

Too often Juma witnesses young girls, who are skilled in math and science, lose hope as they prepare for interviews and professional positions. “The Gambia has women in technology fields, but on average there are far fewer females than males,” she notes. “Right now, many girls in this field leave it because they think computer jobs are too difficult and they lose confidence at some point. So HackathonGirls is a platform to bring these girls together and encourage them to continue forward.”

A product engineer at a software development company in The Gambia, she hopes to see more women fearlessly obtain careers in software engineering, but her ultimate ambition is to build a community that works together to “empower and encourage more females into the field of technology.”

Read more about the amazing work being done in Africa, and get in on the action by accessing helpful products and programs such as YALI Network Online Courses and #YALILearns events!

[vc_text_separator title=”Fighting climate change” title_align=”separator_align_left” color=”grey”]

Momodou Inkeh Bah is a community development leader who focuses on fighting climate change.

He understands that the best way to implement sustainable change is to engage with his community in tackling environmental challenges. For this reason, he started the Community Action Platform on Environment and Development, hosting activities with fellow YALI Network members and local activists.

Through his organization, he initiates many restorative projects across rural parts of The Gambia, including planting over 600,000 mangrove saplings with youth volunteers. Momodou’s massive planting projects often focus on protecting vulnerable coastlines and farmland from dangerous storms, salt intrusion, and deforestation, in addition to providing a safe habitat for marine wildlife.

Group of people standing on the bank of a river
Group of people standing on the bank of a river

Momodou has hosted several #YALILearns events to spread awareness about climate change. He hopes to plant over a million mangroves by December 2018.

If you’re interested in getting involved in your community, like the YALI Network Facebook page, and access free online trainings, virtual events, and more by visiting the YALI Network website.

[vc_text_separator title=”Empowering youth” title_align=”separator_align_left” color=”grey”]

Radio presenter and youth activist Andrew Gibba provides a platform for young Gambians to discuss topics and issues important to them, such as freedom of expression, children’s rights, and sexual and reproductive health.

“In the Gambia, young people [are] not privileged to freely express themselves; this motivated me to dedicate my time advocating for youth to use the media as a channel to express themselves,” Andrew states. His popular #YouthShow hosts YALI Network members and other influential guests, and he has used the platform to advocate for the country’s family planning campaigns. In addition, Andrew supports community radio presenters, including over 75 students, in rural areas across The Gambia as part of the Paradise FM Mentoring Project. “I am passionate about advocating for policies that give opportunities to youth to be agents of change.”

Join Andrew and members like him by joining the YALI Network. You’ll receive email updates, opportunities to collaborate with other young leaders, and access to helpful products and programs such as YALI Network Online Courses and #YALILearns events!

Group of people standing in radio station
Group of people standing in radio station