By Mustapha Jallow
The Gambia has joined the rest of the world to lead the campaign against gender-based violence.
The Network Against Gender-Based Violence (NGBV) in partnership with ActionAid The Gambia on Tuesday briefed the press about the forthcoming 16-day activism at an event held at ActionAid’s conference hall in Pipeline.
The launching ceremony was supported by Amplify-Change and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with civil society organizations.
According to officials, this year marks the 28th years since the start of the 16 days of activism in 1991. While globally this year’s commemoration is themed “Orange the world, fund, respond, prevent and collect’’, in The Gambia, it is themed “Orange the Gambia: Strengthen domestic funding to enhance national response in combating SGBV’’.
In her welcoming remarks, Madam Marie Antoinette Corr, the Chairperson of NGBV, said this year’s 16 days of activism campaign focuses primarily on the response to COVID-19, both during and post-COVID-19.
She also said it focuses on advocacy on the ratification of the ILO Convention -C190 on prevention and safeguarding women and vulnerable people in the world of work.
Madam Corr said since the outbreak of the COVID-19 and the country implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women intensified.
“This is a shadow pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need global and collective effort to stop it’’, she said.
Madam Corr continued to say that the ILO Convention recommends that national governments adopt laws, regulations and policies to ensure the right to equality and non-discrimination in employment and occupation, including for women workers and other persons belonging to more vulnerable groups.
She added that the convention recommends that employers implement a workplace policy on violence and harassment in consultation with workers and their representatives.
As a network, she said: “We must pause and ponder the real impact of gender based violence. These include direct cost relating to health care services, judicial services and other related services’,’
Omar Badjie, the Executive Director of ActionAid International The Gambia, said the network has made significant achievement in various areas since its establishment, which include organizing capacity building programs, sensitization activities etc.
Mr. Badjie said the network has also established “One-Stop-Centres” at various parts of the country to respond to gender based violence in the regions.
“I wish to emphasize that women’s rights are human rights, and I hereby acknowledge the role of the patriarchal systems in entrenching harmful traditional practices that normalize violence against women and deny women their rights to a life of dignity’’, he emphasized.
Fallu Sowe, the National Coordinator of the NGBV, said their campaign aims to harmonize their efforts to end all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in The Gambia. He added that their theme reflects the network’s stance to brighten the future for a Gambia free from violence.
“It focused on strengthening homegrown funding to support our response to SGBV. It is also in line with the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and reinforces the UN Women Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for women and girls’’, he said.
The COVID-19 Pandemic, Mr. Sowe said has created a situation that increased the risk of violence against women and children in The Gambia just like it does in many countries in the world.
He added that the novel coronavirus has brought about economic and social hardships and forced people to stay at home for long hours, which make them bored and stressful. This, he noted, can spark domestic violence.
“It also created room for children especially girls to be subjected to sexual abuse, child marriage and FGM/C without the knowledge of the authorities’’, Sowe said.