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Protect Women

Mar 11, 2009, 9:22 AM

Yet again, Sunday 8th March marked International Women's Day; a day when women the world over, are remembered for their valuable contributions in nation building, peace and stability.

The theme for this year's celebrations, "Women and Men united to end violence against women and girls," is no doubt fitting.

While women are most vulnerable to habitual and socially ingrained violence that mars lives, destroys health, perpetuates poverty and prevents us from achieving women's equality and empowerment, we in The Gambia should be proud of seeing our women taking part in decision-making processes.

However, in spite of all that, there is still more that needs to be done. We want to see our women and children being more pro-active in all aspects of national development, and politics is no exception. We need economic and social policies that support women's empowerment; we need programmes and budgets that promote non-violence.

According to the message of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, the impact on women and girls, their families, their communities and their societies in terms of shattered lives and livelihoods, is beyond calculation. Far too often, crimes go unpunished, and perpetrators walk free. No country, no culture, no woman, young or old, is immune. This is no doubt a reality which all and sundry must try to end.

It is very important that as we continue on our road to national development, we ensure that as much as possible we keep our women highly protected against all forms of violence.

Reports also indicate that women and girls are systematically and deliberately subject to rape and sexual violence in war. This no doubt stands in direct contradiction to the tenets of the United Nations Charter to "promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom that we must all try to abide by, because the consequences go beyond the visible and immediate.

"Changing mindsets and the habits of generations is not easy. It must involve all of us - individuals, organizations and governments. We must work together to state loud and clear, at the highest level, that violence against women not be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance," UN Secretary General said in his message.

To be sure, it is only by doing so that our women and girls could be protected and made to feel that they are also part of the society and that without them, life would be meaningless.