Jan 8, 2010, 9:06 AM
"It takes a man to build partnership but it takes a woman to strengthen the partnership and by extension, build a nation," said governor of western region Mr. Lamin Sanneh. He was deputizing president Jammeh in opening a one-day sensitization workshop on traditional practices, sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and children. The event was organized by The Gambia Cultural Traditional Practices in partnership with Save the Children's fund Sweden for 35 Alkalo's and chiefs from Kombo at Paradise Suites Hotel.
Governor Sanneh emphasized the importance of training the traditional leaders with a view to empower them with necessary information and instruments to combat social ills that affect the lives of women and children who he described as the most vulnerable in the society.
The chiefs and Alkalo's, he said, are the custodians of traditional values in local communities. He added that if the course gives them the legal mandate to legislate on issues that would protect both cultural and traditional value that are cherished by all Gambian people, the training would go a long way in cementing the already established values inculcated in the society.
"I have no doubt in my mind that Gamcotrap, in pursuance of it's objectives, would endeavor to support any national and international declarations on women and children's rights in particular the convention on the elimination of all form of discrimination against women and children. I feel they would especially focus on article 5 of the African charter on human and people's rights which stipulates: "every individual shall have the right to the respect of dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his/her legal status all forms of exploitation and degrading of man particularly slavery, torture, cruel in human or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited".
Governor Sanneh disclosed that at the 21st session of heads of states of ECOWAS meeting in Dakar in 2001 agreements had been reached to prepare a better future for every child. Since then considerable progress has been achieved especially in the sub region. He said, "thousands of women and children have been rescued from death and other exploitation, but still more needs to be done to meet the objectives of the UN convention on the rights of the child and women protection."
Governor Sanneh however described women and children as one of the most important productive elements of the economy; therefore he noted that they deserve all protection by the government, local authorities, and the society at large.
Sanneh finally urged the Alkalo's and Chiefs to stand firm to fight against harmful traditional practices, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancies, arranged marriages, child pornography etc.
In her welcoming remarks the executive director Gamcotrap, Dr. Isatou Touray, expressed appreciation at the attendance of the most traditional bodies, the Chiefs and Alkalo's to their call on traditional practices that are inimical to the health of women and children. The workshop's importance, she said, doesn't stop nationally but works on a global stage in looking at the health of women and children.Gamcotrap's role, she said, is on the traditional practices that are affecting the women and girls. Looking into cultural practices that affect women's health, the society can't be improved if the local leaders who can make change are not involved in sensitization programs. "Our main gathering here is to discuss and learn from each other in order to see how best women and children can be protected in The Gambia. We are not dropping our culture but instead the negative part of it and we call you to look at the length of culture because not all the culture is good," she concluded.