By Sarjo Camara Singateh As part of its training of women on their effective participation in governance and leadership, the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), held a session with women in Banjul. This is the third of such trainings which follows similar ones in Brikama and Kanifing Municipality. Addressing participants, Mr.Kebba Jobe from the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) cited section 28 of the Gambian Constitution which states that women shall be accorded full and equal dignity with men and shall have the right to equal treatment, including equal opportunities to political, economic, and social activities. He also said Women’s Act 2010 states that government shall provide legal aid and support to ensure equal protection and promotion for women. “Every woman is entitled to Freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinion and receive and impart ideas and information without interference,” said the NCCE officer. Mr. Jobe noted that the Gambia has ratified a number of important international conventions relating to women’s rights such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW ) which, he added, also upholds women’s right to participate in public life, while the Beijing Platform for Action calls for removing barriers to equal participation. Mr. Jobe cited the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), The Muputo Protocol as other international instruments to help to strengthen the national legal instruments that protect and support the rights of women. He said despite all these, the personal laws recognized the Constitution on issues of marriage, inheritance, child parenting etc, are the key areas where discrimination against women occurs. “How can we as a nation and people combat the de facto and make the de jure a reality?” he asked. He also dwelled on factors enhancing effective and efficient participation. Amie Bojang Sissoho, the Programme Officer, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) at GAMCOTRAP, also reiterated the constitutional provisins and the Women’s Act 2010 that obliges the government to promote and protect the rights of women and take positive measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in all its institutions, agencies and organs, in line with its international obligations under the CEDAW and other protocols. Mrs. Mary Small, the Senior Programme Coordinator at GAMCOTRAP, among other issues in her presentation, noted article 14 of the Maputo Protocol on health and reproductive rights of which State parties are obliged to ensure the right to health of women, including sexual and reproductive health to be respected and promoted. These, she added, includes the right to be informed of one’s health status and on the health status of one’s partner, particularly if affected with sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, in accordance with internationally recognised standards and practices. She also presented a report on the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2010 which indicated that marriage before age 15 stands at 8.6%; early childbearing at 19.1%; marriage before 18 was at 46.5%; spousal age difference at 15-19 was at 45.6% etc. Mrs.Small said the reports reveal that the prevalence rate of violence against women in the Gambia is at 75.5%.]]>
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