EU, UN Celebrates International Women’s Day

By Rohey Jadama
The European Union and the United Nation Systems in the GambiaEU, UN Celebrates International Women’s Day
yesterday, 9th March, celebrated International Women’s Day at the Kairaba Beach Hotel with the theme “Women in Leadership.”
Speaking at the occasion, Madam Agnes Guillaud, the European UnionCharge d’ Affaires to the Gambia, reasserts their active commitment to
the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the implementation of the
outcomes of the 23rd Special Session of the UN General Assembly as
indispensable tools for achieving gender equality, respecting human
rights and promoting the empowerment of women and girls.
“We strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls as
violations of their full enjoyment of human rights. Neither custom,
tradition, culture, religion can be invoked to justify violence in any
of its forms, or to diminish, limit or otherwise reduce the
obligations of states with respect to the prevention and elimination
of violence against women and girls, and the effective prosecution of
perpetrators,” said  the EU Charge d’ Affaires .
She emphasised the continued role of CSW as a forum for gender
equality and the empowerment of women and girls as well as a source of
expertise in this regard.
Madam Guillaud reaffirms the EU’s support to the fight against all
harmful practices affecting girls and women, men and boys, including
female genital mutilation and child early and forced marriage
globally. She added that at the Girl’s summit in London in July 2014,
the European Union pledged more than 100 million Euros for the next
seven years to gender equality and children’s wellbeing under our
global public goods and challenges.
In her statement, Madam Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the United Nations
Resident Coordinator, said since Beijing twenty years ago, steady
progress has been registered in women’s empowerment and gender
equality. She noted that maternal mortality rates have declined in
many countries and that in the Gambia, the maternal mortality rate has
declined from 750 per 100,000 to 433 per 100,000 live births.
The UN Resident Coordinator said many countries, including the Gambia,
have reached parity in basic education, with more enrolled in schools
and an increase in the number of women in decision making positions
and in politics.
She said many governments have enacted laws protecting the rights of
women and girls and have developed gender sensitive policies and
programmes.
“In the Gambia, the Women’s Act 2010, the Domestic Violence Act 2013
and the Sexual Offences Act 2013 are now in place,” said the UN
Resident Coordinator.
Madam Lekoetje said both the EU and the UN are pleased to have
contributed to the development of these legislations and the pro-women
policies and strategies.
The UN Resident Coordinator said despite the progress made, gender
equality is yet to be fully achieved in many countries. “Women
continue to form the majority of the poor, and women access to
productive and economic resources remains low,” she added.
She said in some countries women neither vote nor occupy senior
decision making positions. She said women continue to die in child
birth due to causes like anaemia and lack of access to appropriate
reproductive health services and which, she added, are causes that can
be prevented.
Madam Lekoetje said women and girls continue to be victims of sexual
and domestic violence and are being used as weapons of war and
commodities of illicit trade as well as being forced into marriage at
very early ages which are against the rights of women and girls.
“As we celebrate international women’s day today with the theme “Make
it Happen”, we should stand to address the challenges to gender
equality,” said the UN Resident Coordinator.
She called for the collaborative efforts of the government,
international organizations, civil societies, communities, groups and
individuals to use their expertise and resources together and work in
partnership in order to make gender equality a reality.
This was followed by a panel discussion in which participants
from such diverse areas as agriculture, public administration,
academia, business, civil society, judiciary, media and politics took part in.