Oct 20, 2008, 6:08 AM
Adama Barrow has acknowledged the concerns of the Gambia Women’s Bureau, saying
his government would do all it can to continually support women.
He also donated D100,000 to the former executive director of the Gambia Women’s Bureau, Ida Fye-Hydara for her wellbeing and dedicated service to the cause of women in The Gambia.
Speaking at his office to members of the Women’s Bureau,
President Barrow thanked all Gambians for bringing about the change of government.
He called on the women to reflect on the situation of the country and the personality cult built around the former President Jammeh.
Despite being perceived as powerful, he was removed because the people came together and the women took a strong stand during that process.
President Barrow acknowledged the concerns of the Women’s Federation and encouraged them to be patient. He cited his story as a businessman, saying that with determination there will be no limitation.
He said his government inherited a bad economy and urged women to build confidence as well as continue to strive harder.
He promised them that his government will do their best to bring down commodity prices, adding that no development can take place without democracy.
In recognizing the critical role of women in governance and society, the Gambian leader acknowledged the importance of gender representation and reminded them of the presence of strong women’s rights activists in his government.
He further acknowledged the role some of the activists played in fighting for justice as well as defending the will of the Gambian people during the transition.
The change, he said, was based on the principle of democracy to provide a level-playing field for all to participate, including women.
President Barrow concluded that despite the constraints, The Gambia has changed for good.
The Gambian leader pledged that the government will review the situation of the former executive director of the Women’s Bureau Ida Fye-Hydara.
He made a personal donation of D100,000 for Mrs Fye-Hydara’s personal wellbeing.
In 2006 an apex body of women’s groups from different socio-economic activities formed the Gambia Women’s Federation to facilitate support and promote the economic empowerment of women.
This initiative was spearheaded by the former Executive Director of the Women’s Bureau, Mrs Ida Fye-Hydara.
Since its establishment, the Federation members are both urban and rural women engaged in Fashion Design, Vegetable Production and Marketing, Fisheries, Professional groups such as the Private Secretaries Association among other small and medium-scale women entrepreneurs.
In her introduction, the executive director of the Women’s Bureau, Mrs Binta Jammeh -Sidibeh congratulated President Barrow for his election as well as the nomination on women in his cabinet and in the National Assembly.
She asserted that women played a critical role in the elections and appreciated the support President Barrow accorded them.
The president of the Gambia Women’s Federation, Fatoumata Jah, said they have five thousand members countrywide.
She elaborated on the projects they have embarked upon such as the building of a women’s market worth eight million dalasis with a capacity of 600 shops.
She highlighted some of the challenges they faced to complete the construction of the market as planned.
So far, a third of the shops have been completed and allocated while the remaining two-thirds is affected by price inflation and the exchange rate of the dollar.
Ms Jah revealed the initiatives they started also included a groundnut oil processing company, food and merchandise companies importing goods to The Gambia.
The Federation has also been supporting members through revolving fund from the contributions of its members.
She revealed that its plan includes opening regional markets in the rural areas.
The Women’s Federation President asserted that the companies they initiated have been affected by poor groundnut harvest, lack of cold storage facility for food products.
Other constraints included the incomplete market, lack of fencing, electricity and water supply. They also lack transportation to reach out to its rural members.
Despite the challenges, Ms Jah said, the Federation member organizations are creating employment and taking up their social responsibility to plough back to society.
One of the members, Ndey Awa Khan, informed the meeting that the Gambia Women’s Federation is non-partisan and only groups can be members.
She said the purpose is to ensure that proper support is provided to empower women’s economic activities and promote light industries that will add value to local products.
Mrs Khan further appealed for The Gambia to negotiate with the United States government to bring back AGOA for them to reach out to the American market.
She finally called for Gambians to promote local designers by patronizing them.
The West Coast Region coordinator of the Federation, Binta Sabally and Aji Mariama Secka alias Aunty Yam Secka both paid tribute to the former executive director of the Women’s Bureau, Ida Fye-Hydara, for her hard work and the initiatives she took to bring the interest of Gambian women to the fore.
Aunty Yam further appealed for her consideration to be given to her plight.
Source: Office of the President