By Amie Sanneh
With funding from the European Commission, Action Aid International, The Gambia will be implementing a three- year project aimed at promoting women’s socio economic rights in the Niamina East, Niamina West and Niamina Dankunku Districts to asses and determine baseline on current women’s economic status in terms of access to socio economic resources particularly land and rights issues. The survey document was validated by stakeholders on Wednesday, 10 September, 2014.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of Action Aid International, The Gambia, Omar Badjie described the project as a national process. The purpose of the meeting, he continued, is to verify the data, results, the outcome, findings of the survey and ensure that it is of relevance to whatever they are doing. He said anything that has to do with women empowerment is a concern for every Gambian. Most of the women are engaged in agricultural activities and production. He explained that there are lots of challenges that women face, some of which have to do with our tradition, culture, such that they think that women are inferior whether in decision making, ownership of property and so on.
“We think what all women have to do is to listen to men and that the decisions have to be taken by men, but that is acting negatively on us as a nation, men and women equally,” he said. Mr. Badjie stated that a program aimed at empowering women and ensuring that they are able to realize their full potential should be a program for every Gambian. He called on participants to ensure accuracy in the document to ensure success in the project implementation. The lead consultant, Lang Sanyang, from the University of the Gambia, said they have worked hard with Action Aid and partners during this period describing it as tough. He said they are trying to adopt a document that will be good enough for the project to continue going. Mr. Sanyang added that the overall goal is to ensure that they are able to come with a document that will stand the test of time. This, he went on, can only happen with the collaboration and support of the participants which can only be done by them reviewing the document critically and telling them where the gaps are for them to fill. According to him, partnering with Action Aid is something that the University cherishes and they would want it to be strengthened.
In his welcoming remarks, Action Aid’s Program Specialist on HIV and AIDs and Malaria, Almamo Barrow, said the project is not a food security project but has key elements that can facilitate food security. He added that it is also out to empower women to know their rights especially access to agricultural lands and micro finance facility, to have adequate information that will facilitate their knowledge to be able to generate food that is adequate to ensure food security for them and their families. Mr. Barrow said if the project is implemented as planned and they are able to put in place structures, systems and mechanisms in those two LRDs, it will facilitate in ensuring food security for those communities.
The chairperson of the opening ceremony, Pansaw Nyassi, said the three year project funded by the European Commission is aimed at empowering women and helping them in all their social issues such as rights that has do with ownership of property especially land, capacity building amongst other things. He said the project is headed by Action Aid and is being implemented together with two other partners, the National Women’s Farmers Association (NaWFA) and the Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia (FLAG).