The official United Nations theme for the 2015 event is “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” The timing of year’s event is crucial. It has been exactly twenty years since the Beijing meeting. In Beijing, 189 countries, including The Gambia, made a commitment to achieve equality for women, in practice and in law. In the years that followed, evidence shows, there has been significant progress registered in such areas as education, political leadership, health et cetera. However, the environment, in many parts of the world, remains inimical to the health and wellbeing of women. Therefore, for countries all over the world, the International Women Day, as designed by the United Nations, is a moment for deep and sober reflection on our commitment to national policies and international obligations.
The Gambia our homeland is set to join the global community in this commemoration. From the information that has reached our news desk, the national celebration will focus on ‘Gambian women in leadership’. There cannot be a theme more topical and relevant. For The Gambia had last month – February 15 – celebrated 50 years of independence from colonial rule in grand style. There were revelations which point to the fact that history has indeed underplayed the role of Gambian women in the freedom and development of the country.
Today, it could be noted with a degree of satisfaction that there has been for phenomenal improvement for women in The Gambia in terms of leadership. The former government had manifested political will towards women’s empowerment. Yet, this is a small bear compared to that of the second republic. For example, over the years, women are gradually graduating from being nominated members of the National Assembly. The few that have taken the bull by the horn to challenge the male political patriarchs have won. Since 1994, The Gambia has had three female Speakers of National Assembly. The current deputy Speaker is a female. However, this is by no means feat. Only five out of 53 National Assembly Members are female – four elected and one nominated.
In the cabinet, the presidency has been consistent in appointing a good number of portfolios to women. Suffice to say that the country can boast of having the longest serving vice president in Africa. Female judges have as well been appointed to the judiciary. The situation can be obtained in other government offices and parastatals. In the private sector, women have been imbued with renewed confidence to assume leadership positions. The situation for women has been boosted by legal and policy frameworks devised over the years to put women at par with women.
However, more needs to be done to promote women in leadership and protect and consolidate the gains registered. Socio-economic conditions, such as early and child marriage, the hurly burly of domestic politics, discriminatory behaviours, inept implementation of laws and policies, and the misconstrued place for women, among others, continue to huddle women’s march to leadership positions. As we mark yet another day for women, let us stand in solidarity with women and renew our commitment towards the advancement of women.
No longer can we continue to ignore or hold back our better halves. Empowering means that communities can reach their full potential. This means peace and prosperity for our great country, The Gambia.]]>