By Ndey Sowe
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said the new draft Constitution should cater more for women particularly in terms of representation.
Rohie Bittaye Darboe said ‘‘the 1997 Constitution was a great improvement on the 1972 Constitution because it accords significant liberties to women particularly in the areas of citizenship, use of language and equality”.
She made these remarks on Thursday December 19th 2019 during a two day women’s conference on targeted thematic areas to development, held at the ActionAid conference hall in Kanifing. She said recognition of personal Laws and traditional Courts often erode some of the rights of women particularly on inheritance, divorce, marriage rights and land tenure systems; that all these Laws discriminate against women.
“The 1997 Constitution equally failed to address women’s under-representation in decision making processes,” she said; that the constitutional review process provides opportunity to ensure that the new Constitution enshrines gender equality by opening the door for a parliamentary quota system for women and reserving a specific number of parliamentary seats for women. She said the result of having a gender responsive Constitution can go a long way in not only shaping the narratives, but in empowering women; that the Constitution can be a mechanism to provide human rights services whereby a provision will be allocated in all levels of decision making positions.
Maria Dacoster, the Interim President of the National Federation of Gambian Women also called for equal opportunities and rights especially in decision making positions.
“Women representation at the national Assembly is very few,” she said; that most of the time, women are nominated members; that now they want to go to the front door like their male counterparts.
She said 14 women representation is a token, and they do not think is enough. She raised concern on other structures of development for women.
Bintou Gassama, Executive Director at Women’s Bureau said the event is a follow up to a previous review that was part of their contribution to the CRC review process.
“We did that because we really want the concerns of women and children in the Gambia to be really taken care of by the new Constitution”, she said; that the Constitution is owned by and is for the people; that therefore it should take care of the needs of all Gambians.
Isatou Dea Sawaneh, Chairperson of the National Women’s Council reiterated similar remarks as previous speakers.
The event was funded by United Nations (UN) Peace Building Project in partnership with UNFPA.