Success Story from the Gambia: Salimatou Fatty, Advocate for Children’s and Women’s Rights

Salimatou Fatty was born in Kerewan village in the North Bank Division of the Gambia in 1994 to modest and loving parents Aja Fatoumatta Jarra Ceesay and Alhajie Saikou Fatty. When she was just one year old, her father passed away. Salimatou is the seventh of her mother’s nine children, but has nearly 20 siblings due to her father having had five wives. Salimatou attended Kerewan Nursery School and Oustass Keita Dara, where she learned about her religion.

When Salimatou was only eight years old her mother determined to relocate the family to Bundung, because there were no high schools for Salimatou’s older siblings to attend in Kerewan. Although Salimatou’s mother earned an income as a petty trader, the family was economically disadvantaged after the loss of Salimatou’s father, who had been a businessman. To make ends meet Salimatou and her siblings all assisted their mother from a relatively young age.

Salimatou was very inspired by the great effort that her mother put into raising her nine children and keeping them in school. She realized that although her own situation was very difficult that there were others who likely had things even worse, potentially because they were not getting the good advice that she was to stay in school. Salimatou made up her mind to try to make a positive difference in others’ lives and education, the way her mother had for her.

Salimatou continued her education at Latrikunda Sabiji Primary School and at Abuko Upper Basic School, a junior secondary school where she served as school prefect. When Salimatou was 13 years old she began to be an advocate and activist for education. She gave a speech on the importance of education during a school assembly and encouraged the students not to drop out of school, even if they failed the entrance exam for secondary school. Ms. Fatty failed her entrance exam at first, but went on to excel academically at SOS Hermann Gmeiner Technical Senior Secondary School, one of the top high schools in the Gambia. She completed her West African Senior School Certificate Examination with very good results.

Ms. Fatty continued to engage in advocacy on behalf of education and gender equity after high school through offline and online social media campaigns to end all forms of violence against women and children and to ensure that each and every child has access to a quality education. Through her online campaign, Ms. Fatty received international recognition. On June 1st 2014, she was appointed as a Global Youth Ambassador through A World at School, due to her continuous support for children’s right to an education. A World at School is an international organization that was launched by Ban Ki Moon, the current Secretary General of the United Nations. The organization has over 500 Ambassadors around the world that advocate for every child to have access to school and learning in their communities. This appointment not only gave Ms. Fatty more recognition for her tireless championing of children’s right to an education, but it also gave her the opportunity to connect with other young leaders from around the world.

In August 2014, Ms. Fatty attended a training session on entrepreneurship in Senegal to advance her skills. In December 2014, she participated in the Gambia’s National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF). The conference brings together youths from across all the regions of the country to showcase their talents and to write resolutions for youth policy. Ms. Fatty was selected to represent her region at NAYCONF for the academic competition, which involves debate and impromptu speeches. She and her counterpart won the trophy for the academic challenge.

In January 2015, Ms. Fatty gained admission to the Management Development Institute where she is currently studying Gender and Development Studies. She is also studying Information Technology, English, and Gambian Studies at the Future Start Gambia Institute. In 2015, Ms. Fatty celebrated her 21st birthday by delivering an inspirational speech at Amamataw Primary School and donating some educational materials to the pupils.

In March 2015, Ms. Fatty was nominated as the Gambian delegate to the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York by the office of the Vice President in her country. In May 2015, she was re-appointed as a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School. In July, 2015, Ms. Fatty led a career development program for primary school pupils.

On November 11, 2015, Ms. Fatty established Salimatou’s Foundation for Education (SaFE), a charitable, non-sectorial, non-political party, non-ethnic, and non-religions foundation that operates on and promotes accountability, transparency, educational justice, gender equity, social justice, and good governance. SaFE’s mission is to ensure that African children have access to free, safe, relevant, and quality education, thereby promoting sustainable development. The organization’s vision is to create a world in which education brings about lasting change in young people’s lives through literacy and life skills that equip them with marketable skills for employment. Salimatou Fatty was nominated in early 2016 for a World Youth Prize for Excellence in Development Work.

Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why has Ms. Salimatou Fatty been so successful in her undertakings?

Some key characteristics come to mind:

Ms. Fatty has had a DEFINITE CHIEF AIM of seeking to bring positive change and help people realize their full potential through her educational programs and mentoring for children and youths. She is supporting young people to develop their reading, public speaking, spelling, writing, and critical thinking skills. Her programs also support basic literacy for older community members.

Ms. Fatty’s ideas of conducting career planning and development in primary schools and of creating a foundation in the Gambia are quite INNOVATIVE. A future goal is to expand her foundation’s educational efforts abroad, to reach people of African descent who wish to learn about African history, culture, and development.

By Heidi G. Frontani



  1. congratulations keep it up, we proud of you.


  2. She is an exemplary youngster with huge interest in youth empowerment through education. All she need is more support!


  3. I am blessed to know this young lady. More Grace dear


  4. Sainey Sanyang · · Reply

    Congratulations on all your extraordinary accomplishments. Wishing you resounding success in all your noble undertakings.


  5. Isatou Bah · · Reply

    keep it up Salimatou. You are such an inspiring young lady we are proud of you.


  6. I have been following her . Great lady.


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