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Friday, January 22, 2021

Letters: Break the shackles around women and girls

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Dear editor,

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The shackles around the mind, voice, body and power of girls and women in The Gambia are deep, strong and far reaching because these shackles are rooted in capitalism, culture and religion. With these shackles we disempower women by marginalizing them from participation in the affairs and decision making processes and institutions of the society.

This is why there has never been a woman President yet. Only 3 women are elected in the National Assembly while less than 20 women are among the 120 councilors around the country. No political party is led by a woman ever. Women are only used as tokens and fronts such as Yai Compin, Deputy Party Leader, Speaker or Vice President while real power rests in the hands of the men behind them!

With these shackles women are denied ownership and control of productive resources and are less educated and under-represented with higher rate of unemployment and lower acquisition of wealth and even lower control of power as compared with men! Meantime women constitute more than half the population! This is called injustice, inequality and oppression!

These shackles create an environment where women are limited, devalued, commoditized, silenced, discriminated and attacked! These shackles are the basis of sexual violence, social exclusion and economic and political disempowerment meted out to girls and women yet defended on the basis of family, tradition, custom, culture, religion. Above all these shackles are shamelessly defended on the basis of maintaining peace and cultural norms and values and respect for elders and authority!

Until we break these shackles the freedom and empowerment of girls and women will be limited hence their capacity to become equal players in the affairs of society. Ultimately such imbalance and injustice will wear down the entire society since no society can progress if it stands on a platform of injustice, inequality and oppression.

Let’s free our society by dismantling these shackles around girls and women so that all are equal before the law and have equal access to opportunities and equally protected from abuse, discrimination, injustice and violence.

Madi Jobarteh

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