#Article (Archive)

A Lot Done, More to do

Dec 11, 2008, 5:22 AM

The three-day workshop on the protocol of women's rights that was held recently at The Gambia College campus in Brikama has once again raised some very important issues. There is no doubt that great strides forward have been made on the continent with regard to women's rights in recent years but there remains much to be done. The number of countries who now seem to be seriously engaging with this issue was clear from what the executive director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Mrs. Hannah Foster, said at the workshop. She said the protocol on women's rights dates back to 2003 in Mozambique and is supported by Solidarity of African Women's Rights (SOAWR). This included over 20 countries, Gambia among them, agreeing to empower women with regards to their civil, political, social, religious and cultural rights.

This is all very positive news but might tend to lull us into a false sense of security. In The Gambia many women still suffer because some men do not seem ready to face the reality that women are equal to men and should be treated accordingly. The recent road show which traveled around the country seeking the thoughts of women farmers found that the issue of ownership is still top of their agenda. Also speaking at the workshop was the Governor of the Western Region Mr. Lamin Sanneh. He said that 51% of our population are women and they deserve to enjoy all the rights that men enjoy at the moment such as ownership, inheritance and freedom of choice.

These three areas are where we should really focus our energy in the coming months and years. If change is made in these areas then the benefits reaped by the women of The Gambia will be many and full.

We continue to make slow progress on these issues affecting women but we must never stop the struggle. As was pointed out in the recent workshop, human rights and women's rights are one and the same thing.