By: Kebba AF Touray
The National Assembly Select Committee on Health has on January 22nd 2020 engaged stakeholders on the proposed Women’s’ (Amendment of Discriminatory Laws) Bill 2019 at the Legislative House in Banjul.
The multi-sectorial engagement is meant to obtain inputs of the sector and department on the Bill, so as to adopt a befitting Law to fight and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in the country.
Lamin Jawara, Permanent Secretary at the Personnel Management Office (PMO), said the Office is an equal opportunity employer that puts competence above other recruitment and selection criteria.
“As such there is no systematic gender-based discrimination in recruitment, promotion, training etc. The female composed 34 percent of the teaching cadre, 64 percent in the nursing cadre, 46 and 39 percent in the immigration and the accounting cadre,” Jawara said.
Lala Jaiteh, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Women’s Afaires, Children and Social Welfare, echoed that matters of marriage and divorce are usually decided in accordance with Sharia or Customary Law for the majority of the population to whom it applies. She recommends inter alia that the Ministry recommends that the application of customary and Sharia Laws in the Gambia, should be expressly subject to the principles of non-discrimination as enshrined in subsection (2) and (4) of Section 33 of the Constitution.
Isatou Dea Sawaneh, the Chairperson of the National Women’s Council (NWC), said NWC has cross-cutting issues and recommends teaching and nursing associated with women as challenging professions.
She recommended affirmative steps needs to be taken to widen the profession for women as opposed to the teaching and nursing professions only. This, she said, will encourage women to realize that they are only not subjected to their professions, but to larger opportunities of becoming doctors, technicians and Chief Executive Officers.
Nyallow Barrow, the Commissioner at the Labour Department said the Department is concerned with maternal leave and recommended that leave for pregnant women should be based on the recommendation by a qualified medical doctor.
Ousman Sillah, the Chairperson of the NA Health Committee said the consultative session on the proposed Government Bill seeks to amend the Women’s Act 2012, in accordance with Section 109 (1) and (2) of the Constitution as well as Clauses 65, 67, 68, 69 (1) (2) and (3) of the revised Standing Orders of 2019 of the Legislature for consideration.
SYNOPSIS ON THE WOMEN’S (AMENDMENT OF DISCRIMINATORY LAWS) BILL 2019:
The Bill is the first of its kind in Africa for being the trail blazer for the recognition, observance and the domestication of international obligations and commitments relating to Women’s Rights into domestic Law.
Since the enactment of the Women’s Act 2010, significant strides have been made to enforce the Law and protect women in line with the provisions of the Act, such as the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right on the Rights of Women in Africa.