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NAMs trained on sexual and reproductive health

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By Amadou Jadama

Last week, a number of National Assembly Members benefited from a two day intensive training on population and development issues, including sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and the demographic dividend. The training was geared towards enhancing the oversight role of the lawmakers.

Held on Friday at the Sir Dawda International Conference Centre, the event was organised by the National Population Commission Secretariat under the office of the vice president and funded by UNFPA.

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Addressing the participants, deputy speaker Seedy Njie described the training as relevant and timely as the Gambia continues to grapple with challenges of reproductive health, gender-based violence, FGM, child marriage, and other population and development issues.

Njie said the training will enhance NAMs awareness of population and development issues, leading to increased support and commitment to advocate for emerging population and development problems both at the level of the National Assembly and in their various constituencies.

“We cannot agree more as a parliament that in order to remedy the situation, it is necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of these issues. So, this would go a long way in enhancing the capacity of the legislature to appropriate more funding for population and development programmes, including reproductive health and gender,” he said.

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He added that it will also enhance the capacity of parliamentarians to ensure population-friendly legislation to improve on the prevailing laws on health care and the protection of women’s and children’s rights.

Njie said the National Assembly, through the Network of African Parliamentary of Health (NEAPACOH), is committed to issues of population, health, women, and children.

“As people’s representatives, it is our collective responsibility to support this noble initiative, which has the potential to positively effect change in our communities,” he added.

Cordu Jabang Senghore, PS, Office of the Vice President, disclosed that the training is organised in recognition of the important role that the National Assembly Members play in addressing these issues.

“As the population of The Gambia continues to grow, projections indicate that it is set to reach 4.7 million by 2050. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge to our national efforts to achieve socioeconomic transformation as a country,” she said.

PS Jabang said the capacity-building programme will enhance the lawmaker’s knowledge on population and development realities and dynamics to better advocate for appropriate budgetary allocations and promote legislation, especially in the areas of reproductive health and gender issues, among others, for sustainable socio-economic development.

Ndey Rose Sarr, UNFPA country representative, said The Gambia, like many other developing countries, faces numerous challenges in population and development.

“These challenges are evident in the country’s fertility rate, low contraceptive prevalence, rapidly growing youth population, and unfavourable social norms that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential,” she said.

The diplomat said The Gambia is grappling with issues such as high maternal and child mortality rates, inadequate access to education, limited economic opportunities for its citizens, and low representation of women in leadership and political office.

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