Wednesday, March 7, 2012

AAITG believes that the root cause of poverty is an unjust distribution of,,,

As part of the NGO Week celebrations, a panel discussion has taken centre stage on gender and development.
The general theme was: Factors and issues surrounding the political and socio-economic marginalization and poverty of women and ways of addressing it.
The panelists were Dr. Kujejatou Manneh Action Aid International The Gambia executive director who was also the keynote speaker, Dr. Isatou Touray executive director Gambia Committe against Harmful Traditional Practices- GAMCOTRAP and Mr. Mam Samba Joof executive director for Agency for the Development of Women and Children- ADWAC.
“In order to pursue the discussion on gender and poverty in The Gambia, I will like to start with a short discussion on gender and development and women and development. “This is essential for helping guide directions in the analysis based on human rights analysis for gender and poverty,” Dr. Manneh in her introduction.

Development for women became a concern when people discovered the differences between men and women’s access to resources and facilitates in development projects and programmes.
Her topic was; Analysis of the human rights based approaches to ending inequality in the society and the powerlessness of women and girls.
  Action Aid International believes that the root cause of poverty is an unjust distribution of economic, political or social power resulting in oppressive structures at local, national, and international levels.
She said communities need to build alliances and work together on focused campaigns to secure changes to existing power structures by overcoming unjust power structures.
The best way to address these issues, she said is to deal with them using the human rights based approach which, she pointed out emphasizes the agency of people living in poverty.
“It is not enough to work on just basic conditions of the people through services delivery nor is it enough to work on just changing policies and practices.”
According to her, long term change will come about only if we work onaspects of empowerment, solidarity and advocacy geared towards influencing policies and positive change.
These, aspects or areas are mutually reinforcing saying that citizens must be mobilized, governments become accountable and civil society strenthened and women are equal with men in their individual rights.
According to her,  the differences in benefits between men and women are as a result of wrong assumptions that men and women are affected by the same problems such as technology and institution backwardness, poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and ill health epitomised by pervasive lack of empathy (Carmen 1996).  
It is generally understood that women are often in need of better education, better access to services and provisions citing credit, health and technology.
 Dr. Manneh noted that this appears to be as true today as in many years ago noting that women’s issues according to Wallace and March (1990) were traditionally subsumed under the question of human rights.
Going further, AAIT Boss said that this change from the 1970’s onward when women’s key position in the development process came to be more widely recognised.
“Women and development thus became a more important development agenda for discussion and hence the decision in 1972 to declare 1975 International Women’s Year and the decade the United Nations decade for women (Carmen,1996),” she stated.
 In The Gambia, she says “ we need to pay attention to the defined roles and responsibilities for women and men in culture and how Gender and Development-GAD or Women in Development- WID can best help to address the situation.
This, she hope can also form basis of the analytical work as we proceed noting that the principle of equality and non-discrimination requires that all persons within a society enjoy equal access to the available goods and services that are necessary to fulfill basic human needs.
For a rights-based approach, she pointed out that the principles of equality and non-discrimination implies that the development effort should target excluded groups that may , for instance, have inadequate access to social services.
These groups may be discriminated by state policies and practices and /or cultural practices, or in other ways enjoy less economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights that others, said AAITG Head.
 ADWAC, Mr. Mam Samba Joof  presenting a topic; “Women’s empowerment and capacity building and access to productive resources: Best practices from the field,” makes elaboration on the National Women’s Act and gender equality policies in The Gambia saying that it is a good start towards gender empowerment in the country. He said that it will also help to facilitate access to productive resources by poor rural women farmers.
 Without the participation of the rural poor female farmers in the agricultural development policy formulation and implementation; as well as the establishment of efficient rural organisations to act as a strong force against the vested interests of those who want to keep the status quo, it is unlikely that significant progress would be made in increasing access by poor women farmers to productive resources, said ADWAC executive director.
 “I am convinced that an effective implementation of gender empowerment policy that does not only feed on rhetoric but substance would significantly empower women and girls to have access to agricultural productive resources and food security and help to improve the conditions of rural farmers in the years to come,” he stated.
 Joof pointed out that gender responsive both at local and national development plans and strategies, seek to empower women.
These responsive policies, he said must have well articulated programs and the right resources to tackle the constraints encountered by women in accessing education, training and decent work as well as address the disproportionate family responsibilities of women. 
 “A gender-sensitive local and national budget initiative could be a powerful instrument that can ensure that development planning and resource allocation for rural development effectively target rural women,” he adds. 
Presenting on behalf of Dr. Isatou Touray, Programme officer GAMCOTRAP Madam  Amie Bojang Sissoho gave practical cases of FGM practices in the country noting that FMG is widely practice.

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