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Female lawyer association seminar wraps up

Aug 12, 2011, 2:59 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Gambia Female Lawyers Association, in collaboration with the Gambia Teachers Union, on Thursday organised a daylong seminar for the training of trainers on Violence Against Women and Girls.

The seminar was funded by the US Department of State, Secretariat Office of Global Women Issues and Small Grants Initiative under The Women in Action Project.

In her speech, the president of FLAG, Janet  R. Sallah Njie,  acknowledged  the “great passion and dedication” of the Ambassador of the United States of America, Pamela White, head of mission Cindy Gregg, and the Political Affairs Officer affectionately referred to as  Zack.

She also commended all that have taken the bold step of facilitating the grant for the Women in Action Project, under which the training is being funded.

The ultimate aim was to raise awareness on the issue, sensitize the younger generation, end the stereotypical idea about women and girls and empower students to stand up and say no to violence.

According to Mrs Sallah-Njie the training, which will also provide a forum for discussion on the above topic, will inform and educate the trainees on the important laws affecting women and children.

She also expressed profound gratitude on behalf FLAG to the GTU for agreeing to collaborate and partner with FLAG for the training.

“We hope that the skills and best practices acquired in this training will be transmitted to their peers and ultimately built into the curriculum for the education and development of our young minds, so as to ensure a violence-free harmful traditional practice,” she said.

For her part, Pamela White, US Ambassador to The Gambia, expressed delight to be associated with the training,  adding that the US embassy is extremely happy to fund the training. She further raised concern over the way in which women are treated in some of the countries, but was quick to say that The Gambia is one of the most peaceful countries.

The US Ambassador further called on the need to end violence against women and girls in our society. She said protecting violence against women should be everyone’s responsibility.

She also emphasised that beating women should be condemned and is unacceptable even in the Quran.

Also speaking on behalf of the GTU president, the secretary general, Marie Antoinette Corr, said violence against girls is not only a direct infringement of human rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, but it also plays a role in denying girls the rights to education by being one of the major causes of dropout among girls.

She also says the MGGs cannot be reached if violence against girls is not addressed as violence against girls impedes social and economic development of countries, including the opportunity to meet the set Millennium Developments Goals.

In her official opening speech, the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Fatou Lamin Faye, said: “This training of trainers, which aims to build the capacities of change agents for the development of societal values and norms, is a means of transferring knowledge, skills, and abilities from master trainers to a specific target audience.

She stated that violence against women does not only constitute a gross violation of human rights but also has enormous social and economic costs, and undercuts the contribution of women to development and peace and security.

The education minister added that responding to this clarion call to action, “the Government of The Gambia remains committed to alleviating the suffering of all vulnerable groups in society, particularly women and children.

“At the policy level, the Gender and Women Empowerment Policy, the successor to the National Policy for The Advancement of Gambian Women, clearly lays emphasis on fighting and addressing, amongst other forms of gender-based violence in The Gambia.”

Other speakers on the occasion included Fatou Bensouda, deputy prosecutor at International Criminal Court.

The occasion was graced by the President of the Bar Association of Lawyers, Sheriff Tambedou; the Judge of the Gambia Supreme Court, Justice Gibou Janneh, and other eminent personalities.