By Fatoumatta K Jallow
The Gambia Women’s Bureau in collaboration with Action Aid and the Ministry of Lands and Regional Administration on Tuesday 22 August 2017, held a National Policy Dialogue Forum for policy makers on the inclusion of women in district tribunals, to enhance knowledge and understanding of policymakers on the significance of women representation in such tribunals.
The Minister of Women Affaires and the overseer of the office of the Vice Presidency, Madam Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, said advancement of women’s rights agenda is her top priority; that over two decades now “we have been speaking to each other for the agenda of women rights to be achieved and we are still lacking behind. 52% of Gambian women are still vulnerable. I am just from Rwanda where 64% of women are holding key government positions.’’
Madam Jallow Tambajang said: “We must work together to realise our goals in making sure women are involved in all key government positions especially at the National Assembly and senior government officials should open up to the public to share information.’’
She said the violation of the fundamental right of women is happening in marriages every day; that women must have equal and social justice and access to land for them to be economically empowered.
“We must set up institutions that will hold victims of gender violence accountable. Women are peacemakers in the forefront of promoting peace and justice. Gambian women must live in peace, social justice and harmony,” she said.
Madam Tambajang Jallow explained that government cannot afford all the resources to fund key women institutions but they will support various civil society organizations involved in women’s rights issues with knowledge and commitment. She averred that women who were in power are still in power and they are together to share their knowledge and experiences because they have the constitutional rights to be together.
The Minister for Women Affaires said the increased visibility of women on the bench, improves the quality of justice. ‘‘In recent times the incidences of violence against women and girls in the Gambia have risen to an unacceptable and alarming level, despite the enactment of numerous legal instruments,” she concluded.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Lands and Regional Administration, Mr Seckou Sanyang, said public awareness raising campaigns are critical to expose and convey the importance of having women in decision making positions and in the entire governance structures. He said the awareness campaign and training will convey the message of zero tolerance against gender discrimination on women which includes the promotion of women and human rights and the elimination of discriminatory attitudes which perpetuate violence against women.
The Executive Director of Action Aid the Gambia, Mr Ousman Badjie, said his institution works in four priority areas one of which focuses on women empowerment and the fight against violence against women and girls.
‘‘Over the years, we have strived to ensure that women are empowered socially, economically and politically. We worked with both women and men, individually and in groups, to support and engaged them more critically in decision-making processes at all levels. It is indeed important to note that participation is not a privilege but a right for everyone including women,” he said. Mr Badjie said the traditional and cultural reality in The Gambia, as it is in many African countries, does not create a conducive environment for women’s effective participation; that patriarchy denies women their right to participate in taking decisions that affects them even at the household level.