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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Why women need to celebrate July 22nd Revolution

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She told The Standard in an exclusive interview: “This day is worth celebrating because there has been a lot of progress under the 20 years of Jammeh regime in terms of development, achievements, women’s advancement and empowerment. The president took the mantle of leadership in a peaceful manner without bloodshed which alone is worth celebrating. This was a blessing for women because in other countries it normally results in civil strife. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) was created and the appointment of the first female vice president which had never happened in this country. It is during Jammeh’s rule that we have had many female ministers in this country in the ministries of education, tourism and justice. We had three female speakers. We have female permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries and directors which are all key positions. In addition, for the first time in The Gambia, we have a female governor. Women have been alkalolu, part of village development committees thanks to Jammeh government’s empowerment drive. With MoWA, there are other structures like the Women’s Bureau, the National Women’s Federation with over 500,000 members from different sectors.

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“In the second republic there was a particular time when six females were elected. The president nominated the present deputy speaker of the National Assembly who is a woman and we once had three consecutive speakers who were all women which shows the love the president has for Gambian women. The Gambia is very close to meeting MDG 3 (gender equality) compared with other countries. I will not rate it as 100 percent because we still have lot of challenges but we have come a long way and what obtains today is quite different from what obtained before”. 

She added: “We have achieved a lot in girl’s education which has reached a level where girls have outnumbered the boys in certain schools at the lower level. The president has set up the girl’s education project and gives free scholarship to girls enrolled in primary and upper basic starting this year and as of next year it will go to secondary level as planned. In terms of higher education, the president has set up a university and it is now producing a high number of female scientists, teachers, agriculturists, engineers, women rights activist, bankers and so forth. In 2013, we have come up with the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill which is very important because it looks at gender-based and domestic violence at all levels. When it comes to gender-based violence, women are mainly the victims and few men are affected. We are working on the sensitisation and popularisation of this bill everywhere which  shows that women have come a long way under Jammeh’s leadership.”

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