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Beijing + 15 Conference Underway

Nov 18, 2009, 2:16 PM | Article By: Abdourahman Sallah & Sarata Jabbie-Dibba

The much-talked about Beijing +15 Conference on Monday kicked-off at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, attended by several dignitaries, prominent among them, was the Vice-President and Minister of Women Affairs, Dr.Isatou Njie Saidy.

Mrs. Fatou Jassey-Kuyateh, the Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Vice-President, who represented the government stated that attending the experts meeting of the Eight African Regional Conference on Women (Beijing + 15) is a testimony of their devotion to the promotion of gender equality in Africa, on the side of the participants.

On home front, she revealed that the education system in The Gambia has proven to be effective and responsive towards ensuring quality education for all.

 "A lot of investment has gone into girl's education and now we have achieved gender parity at basic level," she disclosed.

She said in the area of skills training, a lot of facilities and services had been put in place which, she noted, have given girls a second opportunity to develop their careers.

She added that women's career development also needs further attention, especially on courses meant for those in the lower and middle level cadre of employment.

According to Mrs. Kuyateh, the government of The Gambia has been vigorously pursuing policies that seek to address the health, nutrition and demographic needs of the population.

"There has always been a conscious effort to strike a balance between population growth and socio- economic development," she added.

Mrs. Jassey Kuyateh said violence against women and girls is another critical problem confronting them, which she noted, needed to be adequately addressed.

According to her, in The Gambia a national programme on accelerating the elimination of gender-based violence, prevention and management would soon be developed.

For her part, Ms Lalla Ben Barka, the Deputy Executive Secretary at the Economic Commission for Africa said this massive participation bears a testimony to the centrality of women's needs and gender issues in Africa's development process.

According to her, the previous mid-term review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in Africa took place in 2004. She said 44 countries that were involved in it had pledged to accelerate the implementation process, while focusing on the priority areas at the national level.

"Education is one of the successes that Africa can boast, the Africa Economic outlook (2009) notes that 67.9 per cent of countries have already reached the gender party target," she revealed.

Noting that some countries have even achieved parity at the primary level, she said, Africa's performance on MDGs indicates that the continent is on track to meet primary education enrolment targets, which can only benefit girls and young women.

H.E. Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner, Commissioner for Political Affairs at the African Union Commission said "the gathering is convened at a time when financial, economic and environmental crises confronting them represent no other than a human rights crisis". This, he noted, increasingly poses a challenge to the 12-point women's empowerment and gender equality agenda that had been set in 1995.

"This reality is more apparent for Africans than any other part of the globe, and the consequence is clear that we must respond to the voices of the marginalised," she concluded.