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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Post-2015 gov’t plan indicates interest in women empowerment


Speaking at an interactive development session for 2014 coordinated by the office of the vice president and funded by the United Nations Development Programme at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on Wednesday on the theme: “Closing the gender gap; The realities in The Gambia,” she stated: “This forum aims at creating more awareness on gender and women empowerment issues to discuss and share information as well as to increase knowledge and build partnerships. The theme is critical because it has both individual and national implications and the focus on the economic empowerment of women could not have been a better choice.  Women are employed more in agriculture, trade and the informal sector and therefore focusing on grassroots women is apt, timely and highly welcomed. Gender equality and the empowerment of women continue to be recognised by government under President Jammeh as an important pre-requisite for socio-economic development. This is also an important catalyst in enhancing decision-making and reducing household poverty. I would use this opportunity to reaffirm the unflinching support and commitment of government to priority programmes that address gender and the empowerment of women in line with national development blueprints including Visions 2016 and 2020. An undesirable practice that undermines the potentials of girls to lead productive lives and contribute meaningfully to socio-economic development is child marriage. It continues to affect millions of girls every year in Africa with the resultant outcome of high birth rates, high rates of maternal and child morbidity and mortality, obstetric fistula, premature births, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic violence. Therefore, ending child marriage should occupy centre stage in the post-2015 development agenda.”

Mamonyane Lekoetje, resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme and coordinator of the UN system in The Gambia told participants: “We see this forum as a platform for stakeholders and development practitioners to share their perspective, dialogue and debate on issues that are pertinent to the national development agenda of this country. The choice of the theme for this forum is very timely and appropriate as the country is conducting a mid-term review of the medium term development plan and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment. The Gambia is also actively engaged in the global development frameworks that replicate the Millennium Development Goals and women are critical to inform this process.  Persistent inequalities including income inequalities have reached unprecedented levels around the world and the impact on human development has been marginal in developing countries. Among the many types of inequalities, gender inequality remains the most pervasive and persistently undermines progress in human development. I must say that The Gambia has made immense progress towards addressing gender inequality and closing the gender gap. This has put the country on the path towards achieving gender parity in terms of girls’ enrolment in school by 2015.”

For her part, Mrs Ralphina D’Almeida, veteran gender activist said: “The Gambian society is a patriarchal society and so the issue of achieving gender equality will be a struggle. It is important to state that it can only take dialogue to break challenges that are rooted in cultural attitudes in men. We’ve got to push the issue of empowerment of women through persuasion and dialogue. This is a battle that has to be won and I think there are recommendations that we should follow. These include introducing the speaking and interpretation of our local languages at the National Assembly for the benefit of mature and able women who cannot speak English to become representatives.”  


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