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City of Banjul
Friday, March 1, 2024

Gamcotrap pays tribute to Bijou Peters

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She served as a member of the board of directors for Gamcotrap and later became a honorary life board member of the board of directors of Gamcotrap. She followed the work of the organisation through the media and would call the staff to give words of encouragement.  She had trust in the organisation and its staff.  Gamcotrap was family to Aunty Bijou and she went to the extent of surprising the staff with seasonal fruits from her garden. 
She extended her love for what Gamcotrap stands for to her family and Gamcotrap had the support of her family. Believing in the work we do, her daughter was able to spare her cash and gave it to the organisation.  This was how far Aunty Bijou went for Gamcotrap. She valued human beings and she was courageous, upright and dignified in her service to humanity. Aunty Bijou stood for everything on human rights and was ready to go at length to add her voice to support justice and fair play. She was blessed with a sharp memory despite her age and would contribute effectively to our strategic planning process and guide Gamcotrap on how to reach out to the population. Her mantra was “give the right information to your people, and no matter what the truth will prevail”. Aunty Bijou gave us strength in our advocacy work bringing her midwifery experience to the work we do. Mama, wherever you are, the board of directors, staff and volunteers celebrate your life as you return to your creator in faith and honour. We pray and wish you eternal peace.
On International Women’s Day
Dear editor, Over a hundred years ago, women and men in four countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland) took to the streets to rally for women’s economic, social and political rights. Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 to honour these women and continue to fight for change.
In industrialised and developing countries, women and girls still bear most of the burden of poverty, conflict, disasters and violence. No matter the wealth of a nation, rape and sexual violence occur far too often all over the world.
However, I am an optimist; there is beauty despite the ugliness. The bravery and strength of our mothers, daughters and sisters give me hope. Even when they are the ones that have been raped, abused and battered, they take part in the process of rehabilitation and resolution – from a neighbourhood conflict to an outright war. I am in awe of the ability of women to keep communities and families together even in the midst of wars and crises.A hundred years ago, it was unfathomable that women should vote; today, women occupy the highest positions in national governments in South America, Europe and Africa. Our struggle today to end conflict is just as achievable. It is possible for women to build peace everywhere. But they have to be meaningfully involved in the entire conflict resolution process. Politicians seeking peace in places like Syria and South Sudan tend to neglect the role women must play. But as I have seen in Liberia, where our nonviolent protests and demonstrations helped to bring an end to the conflict, women must be involved. If any changes are to be made in our societies, mothers, sisters, wives and daughters will be the ones to do it.
This is part of the problem in Syria, where women have been underrepresented in the peace negotiations and excluded from meaningful leadership positions. Many observers recognised that the underrepresentation of women was the failure of the talks and it would go nowhere. For the peace process to be successful, women and civil society deserve the space to be meaningfully involved. You cannot walk or see everything with one eye. Women are one half of the population, and leaving them out of the peace talks in countries like Syria is like trying to see everything with one eye covered. It won’t work.
This International Women’s Day, we rally again for women to meaningfully participate in the political process. A hundred years ago, it was unfathomable that women should vote; today, women occupy the highest positions in national government in South America, Europe and Africa. Our struggle today to end conflict is just as achievable.
Although the political sphere is crucial to ending war, let us hold tight that politics is subordinate to people.  When people take the human part out of conflict, and make it all about politics, that is the beginning of the failure. Wars and conflict begin with the human aspect – when communities are feeling marginalised; when there is a sense of exclusion; when there is suppression of hope and oppression of rights. It is people that feel these things, not a political ideology. There is no way you can make peace without people. And leaving women out is leaving out half of the people.
Let us celebrate the women who work to make it right. Women are rebuilding their families and communities. Let us celebrate these women, and the work they are doing for peace. Let us celebrate the beauty in their strength and make their voices heard. We need both eyes to see clearly. Lally Ceesay
Kanifing South


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