By Nelson Manneh
CARITAS the Gambia has on Friday 8th January, 2021, engaged a cross section of Gambians on contentious issues highlighted in the 2020 draft constitution which was rejected by the national assembly.
The awareness raising session focused on citizenship, respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law- issues that were contentious in the constitutional review process among marginalized groups.
Francis Dominic Mendy, Caritas National Director, said in November 2020, his institution conducted community meetings with youths, women, persons with disability, traditional and local authorities on citizenship, respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law and issues that have been contentious in the constitutional review process.
Mendy said the meetings were conducted in national languages in order to raise awareness and engender ownership for sustainability. He said Caritas has adopted strategies that will contribute to raising awareness and knowledge about citizenship, respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law.
“These strategies include community meetings, several radio programs in the form off-panel discussions, dissemination of songs and jingles (messages) in local languages, and using traditional communicators to educate the electorates on these issues,” he said.
Mendy added that the project will conduct dialogue sessions among marginalized groups (Youth, women and persons with disabilities) and legislators. This would be done through several constituencies’ sessions and town hall meetings.
Mr. Mendy said through these strategies, the project’s expected outcome is to enhance knowledge and understanding of marginalized groups on public policy-related issues, such as the content of the draft constitution and the referendum processes.
The strategies also include convening of forums to engage young people, persons with disabilities, women and traditional leaders in non-partisan settings around issues of citizenship, political violence prevention, tolerance, and respect for human rights, democracy and good governance since these steps are essential for social cohesion.
“Each identity group is expected to proffer recommendations, which would inform the next steps for engagement by Caritas and IRI,” he said.