Since then, many achievements have been registered but serious gaps remain. In The Gambia, the discussion on the rights of women could not be any lengthier. But the growing recognition of the challenges that our women face and the need for greater attention on their rights are what awoke us all to their plight.
Clearly, the rights of Gambian women have been a subject of intense focus over the past decade. Various stakeholders to advance the cause of women especially the government have done well. Through their contribution, they have succeeded in keeping the dream world of Gambian women alive. This is a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income and living in a society that is free from all forms of violence and discrimination.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, ‘Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it,’ is apt and comes with a message to galvanise action to address the challenges that still remain and in making gender equality a reality. If anything, our policy shapers have a big role to play in upholding the achievements, recognise challenges and focus greater attention on the rights of our women. Other stakeholders must also be encouraged to do their part. There is even greater need for a united stance against any assault on the rights of Gambian women.
It is pertinent to mention that a discussion about our development as a nation is not complete without a conversation on the rights of our women. Gambian women have signed their way into reckoning as leading lights of our development and we cannot leave them behind. They have a big say in the future of our dear country and we must work towards ensuring that they are fully empowered. The government has taken genuine interest in this and continues to formulate policies in that direction.
Yet, many Gambian girls and women are still targets of domestic abuse, female genital mutilation and other forms of violence. Female genital mutilation in particular lacks the necessary attention from the government even though conversation ongoing for it to put a ban on the practice. It has been widely seen as an assault on the rights of women but the fact that the practice comes with various social and religious implications makes it a tricky political conversation.
It is true that our girls are having access to education than ever before through the various policies and programmes of the government. More women are now in high places in the government and many others leading businesses and organisations. We all welcome these advances. At the same time, we must acknowledge that the gains have been slow and uneven. This makes it all the more important for us to act more and speak less in order to accelerate progress everywhere.
As we commemorate International Women’s Day 2015, let us all reflect on the achievements of the past two decades. There is a long way to go to achieve full empowerment of women with ending gender-based violence a central goal. We are on the right path as a country and we must strengthen our resolve with the required resources in order to address the challenges that our women continue to face.
On the gender equality front, since women account for more than half of our population, empowering their participation in the workforce will greatly enhance productivity and foster economic growth. The road may well be bumpy but consensus is growing that getting more women into our workforce is the cure to many economic ills and imperative to sustainable development. The time to broaden the smile of Gambian women is now!]]>