By Olimatou Coker
The UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia has called for an end to abuse, exploitation and violence against women in the digital sector ahead of the country’s Local Government Elections next month.
Addressing a national dialogue organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with the government and other partners, Seraphine Wakana said the bullying and character assassination of women in politics should be discouraged.
“We are hearing from prospective female candidates that they face cyber bullying and online attempts at character assassination, thereby affecting their participation and inclusion in the political space,” she said.
According to UN rep, despite advancement in the protection of women’s rights, The Gambia, like many countries is not immune to inequalities including in the digital sector.
“I urge all to pledge their commitment towards supporting and advocating for increased representation of women and girls in science and technology,” she stated.
Janet Salah-Njie, commissioner and special rapporteur on the rights of women in Africa, agrees with the UN rep that it is important to recognise that online violence against women is a human rights issue that requires urgent attention from policymakers, civil society organisations, and tech companies, to ensure that women can participate in the digital economy and exercise their rights to freedom of expression without fear of violence or harassment.
Eight March is dedicated as a global campaign celebrating the social-economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The national dialogue which was attended by scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and gender activists provided an opportunity for the participants to highlight the role of different stakeholders in improving access to digital tools for women and girls in The Gambia.