This motion was moved and passed by delegates after the presentation of the Gender Policy of PDOIS by Mrs. Amie Sillah, Secretary to the Women and Child Affairs Bureau of the Party.
Below is the full text of the presentation:
GENDER POLICY OF PDOIS PRESENTED AT THE CONGRESS
State Policy is about principles, instruments, institutions and methods of administration. State administration is about strategic objectives, plans, programmes and projects and their method of implementation.
PDOIS’ fundamental aim is to reconstitute the principles, instruments, institutions and method of administration of the gender policy of the current state and formulate new strategic objectives, plans, programmes and projects to ensure balanced and proportionate development of men and women; boys and girls in the political, civil, economic, social, cultural and ecological sphere to enhance our shared liberty, dignity and prosperity.
PDOIS’ PRINCIPLES OF GENDER EQUALITY
PDOIS’ principles of gender equality is guided by Republican and democratic values of equality of all citizens in sovereignty in a Republic , which makes it obligatory for each of them to have equal power and say on who should manage the affairs of their country and how. This is why each citizen, irrespective of gender orientation, has the right to vote and cannot cast more than one ballot. That ballot is what makes a person a President, a National Assembly member or a Councillor. Hence gender orientation should not be a barrier to assumption of political office. PDOIS is committed to the eradication of all the barriers to and disparities associated with participation and representation.
INSTRUMENT TO GUIDE GENDER POLICY
Constitutions and laws should make it obligatory to enforce gender policy which reinforces the sovereign equality of all citizens, irrespective of gender.
The current instruments deserve to be regarded as aims instead of laws. Section 28 of the constitution states:
“Rights of women
(1) Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men.
(2) Women shall have the right to equal treatment with men, including equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities.”
How does one enforce such a provision?
Section 214 Subsection (4) states:
“In the composition of the Government, women shall be fairly represented. ..”
How does one enforce such a law?
Section 15 of the Women’s Act states:
“(1) Every organ, body, public institution, temporary authority or private enterprise shall adopt temporary special measures as set out in this Act aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women.
(2) The special measures to be adopted under subsection (1) shall-
(a) not be considered discrimination as defined in this Act or in any other law in force, but shall in no way entail, as a consequence, the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; and
(b) be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.
(3) Without prejudice to the provisions of subsections (1) and (2), every organ, body, public institution, authority or private enterprise shall take appropriate measures to protect the maternity status and reproductive health of women, including allocation of special facilities, time, and resources, aimed at protecting maternity, and such special measures shall not be considered discriminatory.”
How this could be relied on to enforce the principle of Sovereign equality? No one could force the executive to appoint female Ministers. No proportional representation exists to enable women to be equally present in Parliament.
Hence no instrument exists under the current state which could be relied on to give legal effect to the principle enshrined in all republican constitutions of the sovereign equality of the citizenry in whom resides the sovereignty of the Republic.
PDOIS Congress should make its voice loud and clear that the party will not pay lip service to the principle of sovereign equality of men and women but will ensure the adoption the following measures to achieve it:
Within three months of a PDOIS administration a Commission of jurists would be constituted to review the constitution and all laws and regulations pertaining to gender relationships and draft amendments which would ensure that there is one third gender parity in all institutions of representation such as the executive, the National Assembly and the Regional Councils. The National Assembly and the Councils shall rely on the principle of proportional representation which would be clearly stipulated in law to ensure gender equity.
To put an end to poverty and rescue women from the dehumanising effect of pounding grain with pestles and drawing water from 30 to 67 metre wells PDOIS shall ensure that between six months and three years of a PDOIS administration, all villages shall have access to clean drinking water, labour saving devices and health care giving priority to the villages that are the most deprived.
Introduce a Cooperative Banking and marketing institution aimed at providing family farms and gardens adequate seeds, fertiliser and appropriate farming implements and guaranteed access to markets and fair prices mutually determined by producers and cooperative marketing institutions.
All women involved in one form of productive venture or another would receive the support of a Cooperative Bank and marketing institution.
Women employees with equal qualification and performing equal tasks would be guaranteed equal income with men. Women shall benefit from a minimum wage which would be determined by the average cost of living.
Early receipt of Social Security benefits shall also be linked to maternity and paternity leaves which shall be granted to families, leaving them to choose who would remain home to look after babies. The percentage of social security entitlements during maternity and paternity leaves will be negotiated with Unions. All employees shall be entitled to belong to unions in order to negotiate humane working conditions and appropriate income.
Women entrepreneurs would be encouraged to form partnerships and establish share holding schemes to develop sustainable enterprises with the assistance of commercial Banks.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION
PDOIS sees the Republic as a Community of citizens. PDOIS has a wide experience in providing early childhood education and socialisation. The social and cultural content of education and socialisation under the present system is devoid of democratic and Republican values.
PDOIS aims to build an educational system which would inculcate democratic, Republican and Community ideas and values in their minds from early childhood so that young boys and girls would grow up with shared values of equality in sovereignty and shared determination to build a self reliant economy which could guarantee dignity and prosperity and a just political and social system.
PDOIS has examined the challenges of gender based violence, gender based inequalities, gender based poverty and gender based harmful traditional practices. The list is endless.
PDOIS is focusing on the solutions.
PDOIS has a bureau on Women and Child Affairs.
This Congress is being asked to elect one young and elderly woman from each region to be part of the bureau. These women would be brought together to expand women participation in promoting the awareness of women and their equal participation in transforming the Gambia. Women living with disability must be represented in all the regions and the bureau.
The team working with the Secretary for Women and Affairs would be trained and given the skills to build a mass movement of conscious women who could contribute equally in building a society which could ensure liberty, dignity and prosperity for all women and men.
PDOIS youths should be ready for voluntary sacrifice that we undertook during our youthful days such as the initiation of early childhood educational programmes and adult literacy projects to be of service to the masses.