Gambian Musu Bakoto Sawo was voted “African of the Year” by the Daily Trust. A consecration achieved through her tireless struggle for women’s rights in her country and around the world.
Musu Bakoto Sawo, 27, lawyer and professor at the University of the Gambia, was elected “African of the Year” on 04 January 2021. The national coordinator of Think Young Women is a tireless human rights advocate. This non-profit organization promotes the participation of women and girls in society. Part of this work is to end violence against girls and women, including forced marriages and female genital mutilation.
“When I was about five or six years old, my parents took me to my grandmother. I was mutilated there. I couldn’t imagine the impact that cutting would have on me,” says Musu, who uses his experience in capacity building, research, networking and program development to interact with human rights mechanisms and local, national, regional and international organizations and platforms. “I tell the girls: get involved and be the change you can so that your future children are not victims,” says Musu, who wants to see a new generation of conscious and strong young women.
Former President of Botswana and Chair of the Selection Committee, Dr Festus Mogae, highly commended her for winning the prestigious Daily Trust “African of the Year” award for 2020. “Musu Bakoto deserves the award for his ongoing work to end violence against girls and women, including child marriage and female genital mutilation,” he said.
She has already been awarded the 2017 Vera Chirwa Prize (from the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa. She was recognized as one of the 100 most influential young people in West Africa by the Confederation of West African Youth in 2018. She also won the “Inspiring Gambian Award 2018” awarded by the People’s Choice Award for Excellence in The Gambia.