By Omar Bah
The national coordinator of West Africa Network for Peace-building, Anna Jones has said that the marginalization of Gambian women in politics and the economy must stop now.
“Women in The Gambia have been marginalized politically, socially and economically for so long,” she said during the opening of a day-long forum on women’s role in the Gambia’s reform process organised by WANEP under-The Gambia, women in peace-building network, WIPNET at NAQAA office.
She said women should be featured in the ongoing government initiatives including the SSR process, transitional justice process, institutional, legal and constitutional reforms, amongst others as a way of consolidating the democratic processes.
“In all these initiatives, it is important for women’s perspectives to be incorporated to right the wrongs women faced in the past and to ensure that going forward, women have equal opportunities to participate in the new democratic dispensation,” she added.
The aim of the forum, she added is to capitalize on the transition period being a strategic opportunity to adopt legislative and policy measures to eliminate discrimination against women.
She urged the participants to take the training very seriously and explore the critical and unique ways women can contribute and participate in the democratic process and share lessons learned.
“Thereby contribute to strengthen the women’s rights agenda in the transition period to inform policy and practice, highlight new thinking or important trends, identify challenges and map out solutions,” she added.
Meanwhile, the deputy permanent secretary at the office of the vice president and ministry of women’s affairs Binta Gassama, said her office is pleased that institutions like WANEP are participating in the country’s reform process.
“We should all appreciate the fact that the peace and reconciliation in the country cannot be left to government alone and therefore the active participation of all and sundry to compliment government’s efforts is of paramount importance,” she said.
She continued: “Whilst we recognise the need for these reforms, it is important that women are not left out in the process. The role of women in all these interventions is of utmost importance and cannot be overemphasized.”
Women, she said are still amongst the most vulnerable in society and are usually the ones subjected to most violations, “withstanding, history and research has shown that women play a critical role in rebuilding societies.”
“It is absolutely necessary and a matter of must for women of the Gambia to be actively engaged and consulted in these reform processes. This will ensure that the needs of women and girls are understood,” she said.
The transitional justice process, she said is an integral element of the peace building agenda and relevant for the promotion of UN Security Council resolution, UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security.
“This resolution provides mechanisms for women’s active involvement in all aspects of peace building, as well as providing justice and redress for abuses of women’s political, social, economic and social rights. It should be noted that Gambia is a signatory to the resolution and has gone further to develop a national action plan for its implementation,” she added.