The theme “Empower A Woman – Give the World A future Beyond Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” is very crucial and momentous, given the fact that the majority of women all over Africa continue to wallow in inequity and oppression. Having women leaders meeting and discussing the empowerment of women, which is one of the foundations of all civilised societies, cannot be underestimated.
The third goal of the Millennium Development Goals is to promote gender equality and empower women. How far have we gone with regard to achieving these goals? With the raging debate on the participation of women in politics, it becomes ever so essential to evaluate our progress and our constraints. Critical self-examination is fundamental if we are to make improvements and move forward in the quest to empower the woman and give her, her rightful place in the decision-making process.
The development of any society or nation, it should be recognised, hinges on the empowerment of its womenfolk. One of the major impediments to the acceleration of the development agenda in many African and third world countries is the neglect of women in the decision-making process. Many of the problems faced by women can only be properly handled by them, hence the need to involve them in the dialogue and political circles.
The African woman especially exists in a contentious social milieu. With religion, tradition and culture all mixed together in one melting pot and often misinterpreted to suit the perverted whims of the majority of those who oppress women, the role of the women leaders and activists remain a fundamental one. Religion and theology have always been tools for the oppressive forces toward women. When looking at the goal of religion and its theological dimension, we realise that its motives have always being that of goodness for and towards mankind. The misinterpretation that ensues from theologians being the problem and not the revelations themselves that emanated from the heavens.
In promoting a bright future for women on the continent, the foremost thing is the actualisation of education and literacy for women. Ignorance has been one of the main tools used to abuse and degrade women. Also the need to sensitise people of all genders on the rights of women and the punishments laid down by the law with regards to abuse and mistreatment. The Gambian government for example has been very instrumental in the protection and promotion of women’s rights through the enactment of the Women’s Act. However, the challenge remains, in that it needs to be promoted and acted upon by the law enforcement agencies without ill will or affection.
In empowering a woman we are in fact giving the world a better future. If women continue being oppressed and marginalised then it means half of the human race is stifled, leading to a serious imbalance in the development, growth and progress of our world. So this meeting couldn’t come at a better and more opportuned time. And the theme suits our current situation more than ever before; for the discourse on development without the empowerment and elevation of women will end up in well winded dreams and rhetoric that will get the continent nowhere.
We wish the women leaders and all activists a successful deliberation and hope they have a pleasant stay in The Gambia.]]>