Representing President Barrow, Ambassador Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay has told the 3rd African Union Conference on positive masculinity in leadership in South Africa that The Gambia continues to be committed in the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of children and women as evidenced by a number of legislations passed in the last ten years alone.
“The Government of President Adama Barrow is committed to promoting economic growth, reducing poverty and vulnerability, and improving the wellbeing and welfare of its population through the development and implementation of series of policies and programmes that span the social economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development,” she told the conference.
Ambassador Jahumpa Ceesay cited the enactment of Children’s Act in 2005, amended in 2016 to prohibit child marriage, in addition to Women’s Act in 2010, which was also amended in 2015 criminalizing the practice of FGM in the Gambia among others as a giant step taken by the country.
Ambassador Jahumpa added that the Gambia has made remarkable progress in the area of governance with a new draft constitution completed which espouses respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, and rule of law and also advocate for gender balance and fair representation of women, youth and persons with disabilities in parliament and other statutory bodies as well as in the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
‘In the judiciary, a balance in the gender representation was achieved and for the first time, there is a Gambian female judge at the Supreme Court; and the President of the Court of Appeal is also a female. At the political level, for the first time, a female was elected as the mayor of Banjul, the capital city while in the social services sector significant progress has been recorded with respect to access to education, water, and nutrition outcomes,” she told the gathering.
In the area of gender equality and equity, Ambassador Ceesay admitted there are number of constraints as representation and participation of women at decision making levels remain inadequate. “In the National Assembly for instance, only 10.3% (52 males, 6 females) of seats are occupied by women compared to the target of 30% despite of the fact that women continue to vie for such positions. Cabinet is also male dominated with only 20% female representation (20 males, 3 females). “Results of the 2018 Labour force survey also shows the gender disparity in employment as only 17.9% of women were reported to be in managerial positions,” she said.
She reported also that gender-based violence (GBV) including female genital cutting (FGC) continue to be practiced in some communities despite a law banning it. However, she went on monitoring the practice of FGM and enforcing the ban can be challenging.
The conference is taking place in Pretoria, South Africa attended by heads of state and high-profile delegates also has among its theme, ending violence against women and girls.