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International Women’s Day: Gambian Women speak

Mar 8, 2016, 11:39 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

As the world celebrates yet another International Women’s Day today, on the global theme: “Pledge for Parity”, and on the National theme: “women empowerment a sustainable development”, our reporter yesterday met with some women to seek their opinion on the importance of the day, and the way forward.

Ms Isatou Jeng, Programme Manager of The Girls’ Agenda and Advocacy and Campaign Officer Network Against Gender-Based Violence, said: “Every 8th March, the world celebrates women as critical actors in all spheres of life and development, who are holding half the sky and contributing immensely to move the world to another level of progress.”

She said despite their unflinching and tireless efforts, violence against women and girls continue to exist in all its forms.

Progressive movements across the world continue to champion issues of women and girls, which have registered some great successes, “but to be honest, more work needs to be done”.

“Today, we are celebrating successes registered, while bearing in mind that there are girls and women across the world suffering from traditional practices like FGM, child marriage, honour killings, sexual violence, among others.

“Violence against girls and women has its roots in gender inequality and discrimination, and the negative norms or practices that result from these.

“IWD is a day to renew our commitment as advocates and campaigners working to end all forms of violence against women and girls. I will continue to echo the fact that no one individual or organization can do it alone; it requires collaborative, coordinated and concerted efforts in achieving the world we want, which is equality and progress for all.”

She continued: “As a young feminist and a women’s human rights defender, I join the rest of the world in celebrating the joys of womanhood and again renew my commitment to continue championing the cause of women and girls to be able to live in freedom and dignity.”

At the Serrekunda Market, Isatou Njie, a vendor selling oranges, said the women at the market wake up early in the morning peacefully to sell their oranges and go home in peace.

As they celebrate International Women’s Day, women should be able to stand strong and embrace their family, including the husband.

She urged women to respect their husbands, even though some women are the breadwinners of their family.

To those women sitting at home doing nothing, she urged them to come out and fend for themselves rather than sitting at home.

She said that even if their children and husbands are supporting them, it is also good for them to come out and do business to contribute to the upkeep of the family.

“As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, on the theme: ‘Gender equality and women empowerment’, I would like to urge women of The Gambia to vie for presidential positions,” said Rohey Jadama, a reporter.

“For us to be equal and empowered as women, we should be each other’s keeper; let’s support each other, because it is only a woman who knows the pain and suffering her fellow woman is going through.”

She also said leaders of political parties should stop using women as cheer ladies and encourage and support them to vie for leadership roles in politics.

“It is high time for women to also seat at the State House to rule The Gambia, and be represented equally as men at the National Assembly too.

“A woman was created from a man’s rib to stand beside him and be equal, not to stand behind him.”

Isatou Ceesay, a gardener, said the day is very important for them to come together and discuss ways and means of solving some of the problems they face, especially at the level of those women who are into gardening.

She said as women gardeners they do everything for themselves with no help from the government or other stakeholders.

They are responsible for buying seeds, fertilizers, digging wells, fencing and other farm inputs, which involves capital and can be devastating sometimes, especially for women who do not have the means to get the materials.

She added that women are really trying to make a living for themselves and their families, and all they need is help.

They hope that this year’s Women’s Day would not just stop at celebrations, but would also be an avenue where women gardeners will be considered for support.

Kujejatou Conteh, a food vendor, said she would thank God for letting her witness yet another International Women’s Day, and that one thing they could do as women is to tighten their belt once again, and work harder to contribute to the economic development of the country.

Women should learn to respect themselves and value their pride and dignity, she said, adding that those women sitting at home or idling about should engage themselves in a dignified way of finding their livelihood.