By Tabora Bojang
Last week, the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and Network of Women in the Arts in partnership with Alliance Française de Banjul celebrates International Women’s Day with a series of events to showcase and honour the contributions of women artists and entrepreneurs. March 8 is identified globally to celebrate women for their immense contributions and achievements around the world.
The event, held at the Alliance Francaise conference hall, inspires and offers opportunity to young Gambian women in the fashions industry, handicrafts, poetry, music, writing, and local food production to exhibit their works and skills, interact and exchange ideas with other women leaders and decision-makers.
The minister of youths and sports, directors of Alliance Française de Banjul and Future in Our Hands, NCAC, deputy PS Ministry of Tourism as well as a cross-section of women leaders were among a glittering array of high-profile guests at the event commemorated under the theme; “For an inclusive digital world: innovation and technology for gender equality.”
Justifying the importance of commemorating the day, the director of Alliance Française de Banjul Justine Guschlbauer said women are everyday fighters whose voice, strength and determination deserve to be heard at all levels. “The day is therefore important to give a platform to women to convey a common message for equality through progressive and contemporary ideas,” Justine said. She added that the road for women emancipation is long, and requires the daily involvement of all women, a careful and considerate struggle, in collaboration with men, to affirm their identities and values.
Director Justine commended the NCAC for launching the Network of Women in Arts last year, which aims to raise awareness and advocate about the rights of women in arts.
She emphasised that Alliance Française in line with its cultural and linguistic mandate will continue to collaborate with the NCAC and other partners to increase support for Gambian women entrepreneurs, artists and innovators.
The minister of youths and sports, Bakary Badjie said the significant impact Gambian women continue to make in shaping and building the country’s art industry has not been adequately recognised and rewarded.
He called on citizens to embrace equity in communities, work places and ensure that decisions that affects both men and women are not made by men alone.
As part of the celebrations, the network is also hosting the Women Excellence in Arts Award at the Ebunjan Theatre Friday, to celebrate and recognise the achievements of women in arts.
The network’s founder, Matty Jobe, explained that its main mission is to provide leadership, advocacy, capacity building and forge inclusive work cultures where women careers thrive and their achievements celebrated.
She said the occasion provides a solemn reflection on how far the world has come in achieving gender parity while encouraging Gambian women to keep fighting for equality.
NCAC Director General Hassoum Ceesay congratulated women for significantly contributing to the country’s arts and cultural industry.
He disclosed that the government as part of its youth empowerment initiatives will introduce a national endowment fund for arts which will serve as a ‘regular’ funding mechanism for the sectors.