Mar 28, 2008, 6:52 AM
A four-day sitting of the ECOWAS Parliament’s Joint Committee on Gender, Employment and Social Welfare and Committee on Health and Social Services opened on Tuesday at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.
The sitting on the theme: “Validation of the ECOWAS Parliament Gender Strategy” is among others expected to consider and update its draft gender strategy, submitted to it by a resource centre called the Canadian Parliamentary Centre in 2010, which it had hitherto considered in a couple of its sittings, but could not get through the plenary to adopt due to certain constraints.
The sitting will be guided by the ECOWAS Gender Policy to formulate a gender strategy for the Parliament.
In declaring the sitting open, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly of The Gambia, said The Gambia subscribes to the strategy because the country believes that the ECOWAS Parliament and its members are the representatives of the people, and that the peoples of the community should be knowledgeable about their activities and programs.
Noting that regional integration can be more easily attained if we learn from each other’s good and successful practices, and then harmonise our efforts in one integrated whole, Speaker Bojang urged parliamentarians to learn from the various strides taken by The Gambia in the promotion of women and the mainstreaming of gender in all development activities and programmes.
These, he said, are tangible and practical actions manifested in women’s representations at the highest echelons of government, to the incorporation and mainstreaming of gender issues in all policies and programmes including the country’s Vision 2020 blueprint, and PRSP programme.
Hon Seran Sere/Sereme, first deputy speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, said the importance attached to the sitting cannot be overemphasized, noting that the theme for the sitting is of great importance as it is a strategic reflection based on the reduction of inequality and poverty for the well-being of our populations.
She underscored the need for innovative consensual approaches related to equal opportunities to national policy for women of our country towards regional gender policy, she said, which will serve as a basis for any development strategy.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was Kebba Touray, minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, who highlighted the importance of the sitting.
He told the gathering that he was very much encouraged to see that the ECOWAS Parliament is taking up concerted efforts to come up with policies and programmes that directly impact the peoples of the community.
Noting that ECOWAS leaders at their recent meeting in Cote d’Ivoire reiterated their desire to move ECOWAS to a community of peoples rather than a community of states, minister Touray said this can only be realized by the promulgation of policies and programmes that are people-oriented and which directly address the needs and desires of the people.
Other speakers at the opening ceremony included Hon. Haddy Nyang-Jagne, president of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians (ECOFEPA), Hon. Abdoulie Suku Singhateh, head of the Gambian delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament, and Hon. Yahya Hydara, co-chair of the joint committee.
Hon. Lamin Jadama, also a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, chaired the opening ceremony.
Meanwhile, the four-day sitting will rise after adopting the ECOWAS Parliament’s Gender Development Strategy Paper, for onward submission to the plenary during the 2nd ordinary session of the parliament in September 2012.
The Committee on Gender, Labour, Employment and Social Welfare is mandated by the rules of procedure of the 3rd legislature to function in the development of a community policy on equal opportunities, including equalitybetween men and women with regards to employment opportunities, as well as in the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, including customary practices.