Friday, November 5, 2010

Motion on Women’s Bill 2010

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) An act to implement the legal provisions of the national policy for the advancement of Gambian women and girls 1999-2009 and any other policy that might be formulated for the same purpose, and to  incorporate and enforce certain aspects of the United Nation Convention on the
Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the protocol to  the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Right of Women in Africa and for other matters concerned therewith.

The women bill 2010 which has been circulated to all members of this august assembly, it has covered a wide range of issues relating to the right of women and girls as  human rights matters. This bill is relevant and timely considering the fact that from time immemorial some Gambian women and girls have been victims of circumstances and had suffered innumerable forms of marginalization and abuse in society. These unpleasant situations in which some women and girls are subjected to often dispute their daily lives and equal opportunities to progress, such as lack of shelter, poor clothing and malnutrition among others
thereby exacerbating poverty.

Some cases in point are domestic violation, which includes physical, psychological, and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts, or to undertake the
imposition of arbitrary restriction on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms
of women and girls and any distinction, exclusion or restriction or any
differential treatment based on sex. The socio-economic upliftment of women,
therefore, has negatively and significantly been affected for more than a
century. Gender based violence is not only a human right issue, but equally a
development and health related issue.

Government and its partners have taken appropriate measures to promote and protect women’s rights and their legal status from any form of abuse or violence, by ratifying
international conventions and treaties such as the UN CEDAW, the Convention on
the Rights of the Children (CRC), the Palermo protocol to prevent, suppress and
punish the trafficking in persons, and the AU Protocol on the rights of women
in Africa. Equally the government of the Gambia is aware of the need to
protect and safeguard the rights of its citizens and have entrenched these
rights and fundamental freedoms in our 1997 second republic constitution. As a
result the ratification of international treaties dose not automatically make
them laws. Therefore, the Ministry of women’s affairs has come up with this
bill that attempts to domesticate relevant women related conventions and
treaties into our national laws.

His excellent the president of the Gambia has been steadfast in the promotion of women and girls rights and among his
numerous interventions is the president’s women’s empowerment initiative aimed
at promoting the rights of women and girls and their positive involvement in
decision making at all levels. The Women’s Bureau and the National Women’s
Council under the Office of the Vice President are doing all they can to
promote this initiative by advising government on all matters and issues
affecting women. However, what is of significant important at this stage is to
indicate that the focus of the office of the vice president, the Bureau and
council having been on immediate empowerment measure, which has led to the
selling of proposals to partners such as UNDP, UNICEF, and most recently the
Spanish African Women’s Empowerment Project. These and many other projects will
be of immense benefit to all Gambians. These projects are all embracing
covering all the elements of women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming. This
clearly shows the important link between gender equality and equity and
sustainable development and by extension, poverty reduction.

The Gambia government, UNICEF and Action Aid International The Gambia and the EU provided funds for the drafting of the women’s bill 2010, the gender profile 2008 as
well as the proposed and recently validated gender and women empowerment policy
2010-2020. The Bill before you is derived from a desk review of Gambian laws
and women related international treaties conventions as well as a series of
consultation with relevant stakeholder, religious and opinion leaders, women
groups and youth. I understand that the bill was subjected to detailed
technical and legal reviews and consultation with the National Assembly Members
who were adequately sensitized on the bill.

It is important to provide this preamble and order of things over time in order to enhance better understanding of why the bill and make it clear that what happened in
the pass between men and women in their relationship is no longer tenable. It
is rather a symbiotic relationship with respect for each others human dignity
and not just the usual providers and beneficiary relationships. It is a
relationship that recognizes each others role as actors and beneficiary in
development with government providing strong leadership and coordination for
better result.

The enactment of the National Women’s Bill 2010 will formally establish a legal framework and related institutions in pursuance of promoting equality for women in society
and removing all forms of discrimination against women and girls. In this
regard, the bill provides a legal framework that authorities and institutions
can interpret and make legal decisions in our courts. If this is done, the bill
will not only serve the interest of women, but will go a long way in
substantiating our commitment to international treaties and conventions, signed
and ratified by the national assembly. There is nothing new in this bill. It is
only trying to domesticate those conventions and treaties that we are already a
party to.

The Office of the Vice President, then Women’s Bureau, the Legislators, Central government, NGOs, CSOs and development partners including- UN Bodies Bi-lateral and other
Multi-Lateral Agencies will work closely in sensitizing and educating the
citizenry on the provisions of the women’s bill 2020. in summary the Bureau and
Council supported by the office of the vice president will guide the process of
sensitization and resource mobilization.

The effective execution of this bill requires the commitment of all stakeholders, particularly the Judiciary, National Assembly Members, Regional Governors,
Security Personnel, Chiefs, Alkalolus, Religious and Opinion leaders, Civil
Societies, Men and women of all works of life.
Vol:2 Issn:165

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