As Women Empowerment Project launched

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gambian women assured of Gov’t support

Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh, the President of the Republic of The Gambia, has assured Gambian women of his government’s continued support towards their empowerment, as far as national development is concerned.

This was contained in a statement read on his behalf by the vice-president and secretary of state for Women’s Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, during the launching ceremony of the Women’s Empowerment Project, under the auspices of President Jammeh. The initiative, funded by the governments of The Gambia and Spain, was launched yesterday, at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

"As a government, we will continue to take the necessary steps, even go to the extra mile, to lend our support to the women of the Gambia. Personally, I am on record recognising at any given opportunity, the inspiration I have drawn from the hard work and exceptional enterprise of our women folk.

I shall not relent in committing my attention and the special attention of government, to championing the course of women and working towards increasing our success in the following key areas; the inclusion of women in the functional structures of government, especially at decision making level; girls education, with particular focus on parity at all levels; the drastic reduction of maternal and child mortality rate; the protection and promotion of women’s rights, with legislative instruments that do not only guarantee protection, but stipulate stringent penalties for those who perpetrate violence against women," she said.

Commenting on the President’s words, she further stated that her government would not and shall never tolerate rape and other forms of abuse directed against women.

Perpetrators, she said, will be tracked down to face the full and uncompromising force of the law.

She went on to say women Constitutes about 50% of the labour force, and, continue to lead in the production of the country’s major staple food especially rice. In addition to the crucial role they continue to play in the horticultural sector, Gambian women are also very active in the tourism industry.

According to the President’s statement read by the Vice-President, women have the fundamental duty to serve not only as mothers and household keepers, but also as breadwinners for many families.

She went on to say that the Women Empowerment Project constitutes a magnificent project, as it showcase another meaningful step in the efforts deployed by government towards providing the necessary environment, infrastructure and facilities for Gambian women to learn and acquire skills, access resources and finance, network at the local and international level, thus harnessing their collective potential to create and develop a vibrant platform for business and production.

Acknowledging the immense contribution of the outgoing National Women’s Council, she reiterated that the invaluable contributions of the outgoing members of the National Women’s Council must be commended, as their rewarding and productive services to the women of this country will continue to offer their support and advice to the council, and also share their vast experience with new members.

She further said that the Spanish African Women Empowerment Project will support, amongst other things the building of a processing and storage plant as well as the National Women’s multi purpose complex. "Resources have also been mobilised to build the market complex which will house two hundred outlets, a supermarket, restaurant, a cinema hall as well as other out-door facilities," she outlined.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Aja Kassa Kanteh-Sanneh, the out-going chairperson of the National Women’s Council, said in 1980, the Council was created by an act of parliament to serve as the machinery for addressing shortcomings confronting women empowerment, where the council under the leadership of a Chairperson, serves as the advisory body to government on women’s issues.

"The Women’s Bureau serves as the secretariat to the national Women’s council and is charged with the responsibility of the day-to-day administration of the work of the council and implement recommendations emanating from council meetings which are usually held every three months, she concluded.

Author: by Mariatou Ngum-Saidy & Asanatou Bojang