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Mar 13, 2015, 11:20 AM

The women of Niamina in the Central River Region have called for their inclusion in DistrictTribunals. In a petition handed over to the Deputy Governor of Central River Region Malang SaiboGassama who represented the CRR Governor, the women noted that most of them cannot expressthemselves in the midst of men when they are violated particularly in their marital homes. ‘We aretherefore demanding to be included in the District Tribunals because there are issues that affect usthe women that can only be addressed by women, as we can only disclose them to a fellow woman’,they said. The demand is among six others that were handed over to the Deputy Governor as part of celebrations marking International Women’s Day held in Kudang.

The women called not only foraccess, but ownership andcontrol over land, saying ‘if weare to solve hunger andreduce poverty, it is vital thatwe the smallholder farmersand other marginalized ruralwomen are given the requiresupport needed for ourproduction’.The womenstated that face a lot of gender based violence ranging from rape, wife battering, early and forced marriages. They thereforeurged the authorities to enforce laws relating to gender based violence so that perpetrators arebrought to justice. Improved access to markets and price control mechanisms to be put in placewere also among their demands. ‘We will want to be supported to decide how much we sell our products, not to grow and someone else decides the price of your own products’, they said. Thedemands were contained in a charter that was handed over to the Deputy Governor of CRR.

In a keynote address, Malang Saibo spoke about the tremendous strides made by the GambiaGovernment in the advancement of Gambian women saying that the fulfilment of these demands isamply demonstrated by the numerous projects being initiated and implemented by The GambiaGovernment giving examples of the NEMA and FASDEP projects. He thanked ActionAid for thesupport it continues to provide to the Gambian people and pledged to submit the women’s demandsto the Governor.

The Executive Director of ActionAid, Omar Badjie, represented by the HIV and AIDS Manager Almamo Barrow also spoke at the ceremony and highlighted the tremendous achievements made inimproving the lives and living conditions of women and girls. These include increased enrollment and retention of girls in schools, parity at primary level in The Gambia, improvements in women taking updecision making positions and their participation in peace building, disaster response among others.Laws and policies that protect and promote the rights of women have also been put in place.

‘However more than 100 years after the first International Women’s Day, nearly 20 years afterBeijing and almost reaching the deadline of the MDGs, we stand at a crossroads. Poverty, hunger,maternal mortality, HIV&AIDS still remains a menace that disproportionately affects women andgirls’, said Mr. Barrow. He urged community leaders, local authorities, members of the Multi- Disciplinary Facilitation Teams, journalists, musicians, law and policy makers to renew theircommitments to end all forms of Violence Against Women, stand up for justice and womenempowerment.

A similar celebration was held in Albreda in Upper Niumi, North Bank Region jointly organised by ADWAC, ACTIVISTA and ActionAid. The women handed overtheir demands to theGovernor and NationalAssembly member. TheNational Assemblymember Mam Cherno Jallow spoke about the National Women’s Act, the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Actswhich were enacted by the National Assembly and are geared towards the advancement andprotection of women. He urged the women to be thankful to the government of President Jammehfor its commitment to the advancement of Gambian women. The Governor of NBR Lamin QueenJammeh spoke along similar lines emphasizing the numerous strides undertaken by governmentsuch as the establishment Girls Education Trust Fund, the increase of female intakes at GambiaCollege and the provision of school improvement grant all geared towards promoting womenempowerment.

Mam Samba Joof, the Executive Director of ADWAC commended the women for their hard work andrenewed ADWAC’s commitment to the advancement of women in Upper Nuimi. Both ceremonieswere punctuated by march-past of women, testimonies from women representatives on howADWAC and AAITG’s work in the LRPs is changing their lives, drama and cultural performances.The female alkalo of Juffureh Aja Tako Taal and the Chief of the area, the NBR Technical Advisory Committee, community leaders, ACTIVISTA youth club, women and a cross section of societygraced the occasion.