By Oumie Mendy
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Seedy SK Njie has expressed parliament’s commitment to championing women’s empowerment in the country’s security sector.
Addressing stakeholders at a workshop on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in the security sector in West Africa funded by DPPA. The workshop is being implemented by UNOWAS with support from UNDP and DCAF, Njie said the National Assembly is cognizant of the importance of gender equality in all facets of development agenda, and has for the first time established a Gender Committee chaired by a woman.
“This Committee in collaboration with other Committees will promote gender and gender equality and ensure that gender issues are mainstreamed in our policies. Equally, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence and Security will continue to work with all security institutions and stakeholders to ensure that women in all institutions, especially our gallant women in uniform enjoy equal opportunities in workplaces,” he said.
Seedy Njie said the Defence Committee as an oversight committee will ensure that the National Security policies and regulations reflect gender perspective and that effective parliamentary oversight is conducted at all times to ensure policy and regulatory compliance.
“Equally, in order to overcome the gap between the legal and institutional frameworks, partnerships between the state, National Assembly, institutions and civil society are essential as it can play an important role in mobilizing for further change,” he said.
Njie said gender equality is about equal opportunities, rights and responsibilities for both men and women.
“It does not mean that women and men are the same. Gender inequality is a result of unequal power distribution between women and men, exacerbated by ongoing discrimination, weaknesses in laws, policies and institutions, and social relations that normalise inequality,” DS Njie said.
The international community, he added, has recognised the importance of supporting gender equality through its various Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
“However, despite women constituting over half of the Gambian population and the numerous legislations to promote their rights and empowerment, there remain great challenges with regard to Gambian women’s ascendancy into leadership positions particularly in the security sector,” he added.
He however said the NSSR and the recent promotion and subsequent decorations of senior officers of GAF by President Adama Barrow which includes women serves as inspiration.
“The government of the Gambia has taken positive steps to promote gender equality and women empowerment. The creation of the new ministry for Gender is a testimony of the government’s commitment to realizing this objective,” he added.
Njie said under-representation of women demonstrates the disparity in the country’s commitment to attaining gender equality in the security sector.
“If we are really serious about development, we must be serious in gender equality and women’s empowerment. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” he said.
The National Security Adviser, Momodou Badjie said more commitment and decisive actions are required from national and institutional level to address inequalities in the security sector including the establishment of targets for recruitment, retainment and promotion of women in the security sector.