Musu Bakoto Sawo is a Gambian law scholar and girls’ rights, advocate. She engages communities in harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.
Musu Bakoto was born and raised in The Gambia. She obtained her Bachelor of Law degree at the University of The Gambia and her Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria.
Married at the age of 14 and widowed at 21 with no inheritance, Musu, who had also gone through female genital mutilation as a child, still strove to earn a quality education that has catapulted her to her current position as a university lecturer, who is also striving to address the injustices that women face daily across Africa.
She uses her experience in capacity building, research, networking, program development to engage with human rights mechanisms and grassroots, national, regional, and international organizations and platforms.“I say to the girls: come out and be the change that you can be because your children may be victims,” says Musu while explaining her motivation.
Music started advocating for girls’ rights at age 9, including against child marriage, which she fell hostage to 5 years later. She lectures at the Faculty of Law, University of The Gambia (in international human rights law).
As the National Coordinator for Think Young Women in the Gambia, she is a recipient of the 2017 Vera Chirwa Award (from the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. South Africa; recognized as one of the 100 most influential young persons in West Africa by the Confederation of West African Youths in 2018; and a recipient of ‘Inspiring Gambian Award 2018’ by the People’s Choice Award for Excellence in The Gambia.
The 31-year-old activist is a recipient of several awards in recognition of her continuous commitment to ending violence against girls and women including child marriage and female genital mutilation.