D1.6M Project on Violence Against Women, Girls Launched

Thursday, July 03, 2008
Violence against Women and Girls (VAW&Gs) is a big contributor to death and illness among women, as well as to a host of human right abuses, a statement delivered by Mrs. Kujejatou Jallow, Action Aid The Gambia Country Director, underlined. It was further revealed by Mrs. Kujejatou Jallow that "gender-based violence and particularly intimate partner violence is a leading factor in the increasing "feminisation" of the global AIDS pandemic, stigma and discrimination that women and girls face in their families and communities, in peace and in conflict, within and outside of intimate partnerships, and by state and non state actors.

Mrs. Jallow disclosed that in recognition of the negative effects that violence, or the threat of it, could have on the physical and mental health of women and their psycho-social well-being and cognisant of the gaps that exist in providing information and quality support services to the women and girls who encounter violence, a Consortium of NGOs and partners was set up. This consortium, she explained, is to effectively advocate for the right policies that respect, protect and fulfill the rights of women and girls in the face of societal violence. The consortium consists of ActionAid The Gambia, Gambia Family Planing Association, Gambia Red Cross Society, World View The Gambia, TARUD, UNHCR, UNFPA, MUTAPOLA and SIMA Vocational Training Centre as the Steering Committee.

The consortium, known as Women Won't Wait Consortium, and a study on women and girls, was launched on Tuesday at the Tango office in Kanifing.

In her launching statement, the Action Aid Country Director, Madam Kujejatou Manneh, said that violence against women is a problem that affects all nations and societies and is of pandemic proportions. She said that women experience violence in their homes, communities, schools, streets, markets, police stations and hospitals.

She revealed that in 2006, her office commissioned a study on violence against women in The Gambia. The findings of the study revealed several socio-cultural factors responsible for violence against women and girls.These, she said, include women's low self-esteem and the low status accorded to them by the society as well as their low literacy levels. This affects issues of control, ownership, and participation in almost all aspects of development and strategic resources. Their reproductive health problems, she added, remain the leading cause of sickness and death for women of child-bearing age thus resulting in a high maternal mortality rate.

According to her, the vision of the consortium is to have a Gambia in which women claim their right to be free of violence and in which the rights of women and girls and other vulnerable groups within their ranks are respected, protected and enhanced.

Almameh Taal of Worldview The Gambia, thanked Action Aid for their support to the three-year project.

Author: By Nfamara Jawneh & Njie Baldeh