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
“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
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
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%.