Friday, March 19, 2010

GAT, RHV Project Officially Launched

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA(MB)- The Gambia is a signatory to the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action and several human rights treaties. Implementation of these international instruments and conventions should be accelerated, and this has prompted formation of the Gender Action Team (GAT) and Raising Her Voice (RHV) as non-governmental organisartions in the Gambia.
GAT is yet another initiative by the NGO community to push the agenda forward for the advancement of women and girls, not only in the Gambia but the whole sub-region. GAT will work to promote gender equality and the human rights of women.
Speaking at the official launching of GAT and RHV, Mrs. Amie Jobe, a lawyer, said gender equality and the human rights of women have long been recognised as important to the fabric of any society, as embodied in major international human rights instruments.
“The Gambia is a party to the rights of women agreements, but the majority of people are not aware of these rights, and are unable to empower themselves”.
GAT and RHV are organisations formed for the promotion of the human rights of women and gender equality in the Gambia, and will play an important role in the pursuit of gender equality, women’s empowerment and the human rights of women, she pointed out.
According to Mrs Jobe, women form more than half of the population of the world, adding that women should have the same opportunities as men, by ensuring that women are availed better survival conditions.
“We would not only be a healthier continent, but also a richer one, if the rights of women are given and well respected by all”.
It is disheartening to note that the vast majority of the world’s poor are women; in addition, “two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are female, while millions of school-age children not in school are girls, Mrs Joof added.
Women, she said, “should be well supported in the education system, and so as to ensure higher economic performance and productivity”.
The Gambia, Jobe continued, has signed and ratified the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other instruments, all geared toward the promotion and protection of human rights.
In addition to signing and ratifying a number of international and regional instruments, the Gambia also has in its constitution a provision that rights shall be enjoyed by all regardless of gender.
This is provided for in Article 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia which is the supreme law of the Gambia. “Our laws make it illegal to discriminate based on gender”, she continued, further noting that under the leadership of President Yahya Jammeh, the role of the women has been fully recognised by the government.
The government together with its development partners has taken many initiatives in pursuit of its objectives towards women’s empowerment.
These developments “can be seen in the education sector, agriculture, political an decision making sectors, commerce and so on and so forth”, according to Mrs Joof.
Consequently, a lot has also been achieved in terms of gender equality, women’s empowerment and the human rights of women. However, more needs to be done, and will continue to be done, in pursuit of our aims in this area, and in fulfilling our objectives under Vision 2020 and meeting our obligations under the MDGs.
The Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly, Elizabeth Renner, speaking at the ceremony said that GAT and RHV are in line with government policy programs and strategies, which are well documented in the national development blueprint PRSP 2 as well as the Gambia Incorporated Vision 200.
The Speaker called on all to forge greater and wider horizontal partnerships among ourselves and not only the vertical partnerships that are mostly donor-driven.
“Let us be more policy and strategy driven within and among the NGO community and other issues and strategies and not over personalities, people or heads”.
She told GAT and RHV members that in order to achieve their objectives, their intended programs should ensure that public policies, decision-making and expenditure and national, customary and traditional rights reflect the interest of poor and marginalised women, and not deviate from their mission and vision.

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