The Gambia


2.17 million

Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49


2018 population growth rate


Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-19


Type practised

The most widely practised forms of female genital cutting  (FGC) in The Gambia are Type I and Type II.


The age at which girls are cut in The Gambia varies by setting. More than half of girls and women aged 15-49 in The Gambia underwent FGC before they reached five years old (55%). 28% were between five and nine years old. 7% underwent FGC between the ages of ten and 14.



Most FGC in The Gambia is performed by traditional practitioners (97% of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years).


Legal status

Illegal. Legislation prohibiting FGC was passed in December 2015 as part of the Women’s Amendment Act.


National progress

  • 2009 – Established national steering committee on FGC and gender-based violence
  • 2012–National Plan of Action on FGM (2012 – 2017) was launched
  • 2015 – Presidential proclamation banned the practice of FGC; Women’s Act amended
  • 2016 – National training manual for health care providers issued
  • 2017 – FGC included in the National Gender and Women Empowerment policy (2010 – 2020)
  • 2017 – FGC included in National Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health policy (2017 – 2021)
  • 2017 – Communication strategy to end FGC and child marriage was launched

UN programme

Located in all five regions of the country and two municipalities, the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme is supporting the government of The Gambia.

In phase II of this programme (2014-2017), 11,242 communities made public declarations of FGC abandonment involving more than 133,000 individuals. The attitudes of girls and women towards ending FGC are reported to be evolving positively.



Given that the anti-FGC law was only passed in late 2015, there are encouraging signs. Five arrests were made related to FGC in 2016 and 2017.

To support enforcement, one thousand police and immigration officers received orientation on the law by the Ministry of Justice between 2016 and 2017. Efforts were also made to sensitise and secure the buy-in of Regional Governors and six Chief Executive Officers across all regions of The Gambia.


Changes in the political administration have introduced uncertainty around the commitment of the new president to the anti-FGM law, according to a recent report by 28 Too Many.

Human Development Index ranking

174 in 2018 index, based on 2017 data.

Infant mortality rate

48 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015).

Source: 28 Too Many

Maternal mortality rate

706 deaths per 100,000 live births (2015).

Source: 28 Too Many

Trends in FGC prevalence

FGC in The Gambia has changed slightly, declining from 78% prevalence (MICS 2005/2006) before the start of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme in 2009 to 75% in 2013 (DHS 2013).


Prevalence breakdown

By region

FGC prevalence varies according to region. The highest rates are in Basse in the south-west (96.7%) and in the central region of Mansakonko (94.0%).

Practising ethnic groups

Mandinka 98%, Fula/Peul 32%, Wolof 4%, Diola, Sarahule, Serer, Aku, Marabout, Tilibonka, Karonika