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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Gamcotrap engages with lived realities of rural women

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Nine hundred women and religious leaders in the Upper River, Central River and Lower River Regions are targeted to increase awareness on the lived realities of rural women within the context of Qiwamah AND Wilayah.   The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (Gamcotrap), funded by The Tides Foundation, through the New Field Foundation will build the capacity of a critical mass of male and female religious leaders, women leaders and women of reproductive age in the rural areas to foster exchange of experience and mutual support of women’s rights and justice within their communities.  This is within the context of the project entitled “Increasing Awareness and Documentation of Women’s Rights Issues on the Life Stories on Qiwamah and Wilayah in three districts of rural Gambia.”  The project is specifically targeting 450 religious scholars and 450 women. 

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In 2012, Gamcotrap as a member of Musawah, a global movement to promote equality and justice in the Muslim family undertook a research project on the lived realities of thirteen Gambian women within the context of Qiwamah and Wilayah (Qiwi).  While Qiwamah and Wilayah are contextualised as legal responsibilities of men providing protection and upkeep of the family, the data collected from the lived realities of the women revealed different narratives.

The data collected revealed how women struggled in their daily lives to survive and support their families irrespective of whether the husband is alive or dead, or whether he is around or travelled or whether divorced or inherited. This is irrespective of geographical location, educational background, age or status. The high illiteracy rate among women, the prevalent rate of violence on women, and the strong adherence of deep-rooted culture and traditional practices exacerbate the problem. These coupled with women’s limited knowledge about their rights in their religion all have negative impact on women’s health and livelihood. 

This is the main aim of the project sharing experiences and providing evidences of how Qiwi concepts actually act out or manifest for Muslim women in The Gambia.  The voices of the 13 respondents have been developed into a video documentary and a booklet funded by New Field Foundation.  These will be used as resource materials to raise the awareness of women, religious and Islamic scholars to effect change.  The resource materials will be widely disseminated for people to appreciate what women experience. It will also serve as resource material for feminist analysis within the framework of Islam and human rights of women. 

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