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Women in development issues

Jul 7, 2011, 12:43 PM

There is no gainsaying or disputing the fact that women are more than ever playing a significant role in the economic and social development of this country.

Women used to be in the background of national development, with little to add to the national agenda.

Today, the scenario has changed as women are actively engaged in all facets of the social, religious, cultural, political and economic life of the nation.

Women have become noticeable everywhere as entrepreneurs, lawyers, directors, security personnel, ministers, etc.

The Gambia is the first African nation to have a woman as Vice-President. Gone are the days when women would get limited roles as housewives, nurses, secretaries, or low-paid staff in various organisations.

Our women are becoming more active in participatory development, thus registering greater economic progress in different domains of life.

This trend is generally reflected in higher standards of living, greater literacy, and national economic growth, higher family incomes, and a visibly self-confident and forward-looking people.

From the look of things, this trend is here to stay.

One area, however, that seems to be lagging is self-expression.

Women are considered the most articulate and prudent, yet they don’t generally speak out on national issues. They need to be vocal on issues that would have a negative impact on the nation.

There is a saying that, “when you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation”.

Apart from practical achievements, imparting knowledge, experience and ideas would make things more dynamic and progressive in society.

Self-expression must be the pursuit of women in our country’s development.

This is all the more important for breaking the traditional taboos, prejudices, and limitations against women that have had the effect of keeping them in the so-called traditional places, and rendering them unable or unfit to contribute effectively to development.

It is time now for all to encourage the all-out participation of the women folk; it is time for women themselves to make that positive breakthrough to self-expression.

Women have rights, including freedom of expression, as now ever guaranteed in various declarations and protocols, more particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Right, and the Maputo Protocol on Women’s Rights.

If women express themselves more vigorously in the affairs of the nation, this would help bring quicker and greater progress.

After all, it is women who form the great majority of this country. If women are left out in the development process, it would take much longer to realise our goals.

Their unhindered contributions, on the other hand, would produce a more enlightened, progressive and forward-looking Gambia.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”   

Winston Churchill

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