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Deputy Speaker attends competitive workshop for constitution makers

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By Olimatou Coker

Hon. Seedy Njie, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, recently attended a 3-day competitive workshop for constitution makers held in Oxford, United Kingdom.

The theme of the forum was constitutionalising rights in the 21st century with  a specific focus on gender.

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“I would like to state from the onset that The Gambia’s approach to gender equity since independence in 1965 and more so under the current leadership of His Excellency, President Adama Barrow, reflects a strong commitment to creating a just and equitable society. I will explore this commitment from constitutional, parliamentary, policy, and international perspectives, providing a comprehensive overview of our efforts and challenges as a country,” he said.

Njie noted that the Gambian Constitution is the overarching legal framework that enshrines gender equality as a fundamental right. “Section 28 of the Constitution is particularly significant as it promotes equal rights for men and women, emphasizing non-discrimination. This section is complemented by other provisions such as sections 17 and 33 that sanctions discrimination. In addition, and very critical, the directive principles of state policy, provided in sections 214 and 216 requires the government to take all steps to eradicate all forms of discrimination particularly those based on race, gender, language, or religion; and prohibit cultural practices that are dehumanizing, particularly towards women. Meanwhile, the draft Constitution for which engagements are ongoing for its possible reintroduction to the National Assembly and subsequent promulgation, proposes same protections, including explicit provisions to combat gender-based violence and enforce gender quotas in political representation. This reflects a national dialogue increasingly adapted to the nuances of gender justice.”

He explained that from  a parliamentary perspective, efforts by the National Assembly of The Gambia are instrumental in mitigating gender disparities across crucial sectors such as health, education, and protection from violence in The Gambia.

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He added: “The legislative landscape has witnessed significant advancements, notably with the introduction of key enactments aimed at safeguarding the rights and well-being of women and children.

The enactment of the Women’s Act in 2010 reinforces the legal framework for gender equality, outlining measures to promote women’s rights and combat gender-based discrimination.”

According to him, In 2013, the enactment of both the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act marked a crucial milestone in the fight against gender-based violence.

“These legislations do not only establish comprehensive mechanisms for preventing and addressing various forms of violence against women but also prioritize the provision of support and protection for survivors, facilitating access to justice and essential services.

A landmark achievement in safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls was the banning of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in 2015 through legislation. This legislative move signified a monumental stride towards eradicating this harmful practice, ensuring the physical and psychological integrity of women and girls and upholding their fundamental rights,” he said.

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