Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Training on gender mainstreaming underway

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, Tuesday presided over the official opening of a two-day Capacity Building Training on Gender Mainstreaming, Roles and Responsibilities, for the National Women's Council and women leaders, organised by the Women's Bureau at the conference hall of the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

In her official opening remarks, VP Njie-Saidy disclosed that the 2008 decision-making study on capacity needs assessment of women in The Gambia has indicated that limited capacity, lack of confidence and resources are the main obstacles hampering women leadership positions. The study, she said, recommended capacity development as one of the main strategies that should be adopted to address the situation of women empowerment.

She told the women that the training does not only aim to ensure sustainability amongst them, but also to improve on the gains they have already made. The vice president further disclosed that during the training participants would be trained on confidence building skills, public speaking as well as networking and partnership building and negotiation skills.
VP Njie-Saidy also pointed out that the government of The Gambia and its' partners have made some significant efforts to provide the enabling legal and policy environment for the advancement of the country's women as well as to improve their social, cultural and economic status. "This is evident in the establishment and operationalisation of a National Women's Machineries, the ratification of international and regional instruments on the rights of women," she said.

She noted that the division of labour along gender lines has resulted in daunting challenges for women as they carry out their productive, reproductive and community roles. She added that women are also engaged in some number of economic activities both paid and unpaid in the formal and informal sectors of the economy. While women comprise 50 percent on the agricultural labour force and 70 percent of the unskilled agrarian wage earners and produce 80 percent of the vegetables and 99 percent of the staple food rice, VP Njie-Saidy observed that increasing their productivity in agriculture is constrained by limited access, control and ownership of productive resources, which include time, land, credit, machinery and technology.

She further explained that in the area of governance, women's invisibility is pronounced especially in local government administration. She pointed out that there are no women governors, mayors, and chairpersons of councils or district chiefs. Out of the 1,873 villages in the country, she went on, there are only five female Alkalolu, while on the other hand some of the few women who find themselves in leadership positions at the national level find it difficult to effectively contribute and influence decisions due to their limited capacities.

Women leaders, she said, must be seen supporting one another rather than engaging in trivial quarrels. "We are at a threshold of attaining social transformation, but we still require attitudinal change, particularly in terms of our outlook, perception and mentality," she reminded the women. While reassuring of The Gambia government's resolve to providing the enabling environment for the operation of women in the country, VP Njie-Saidy used the occasion to thank the UNDP for all the support and partnership it rendered to her ministry not only during the hosting of the Beijing +15 meeting, but also the commitment they have shown as true partners in promoting women's participation in decision-making.

Ida Faye-Hydara, the executive director of Women's Bureau said they decided to organise the training on gender mainstreaming because they felt that women are left behind. She added that the training will empower the women to take up their responsibilities more effectively. She then commended the leadership of the country for providing the enabling environment for women and assured that they [Women's Bureau] will always do their best to empower the women.
The mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council, Yankuba Colley, told the women that they must have one common objective in order to move forward for sustainable development. The training, he said, will help the participants to understand their roles as leaders and to apply their leadership skills effectively.

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Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.