The veteran lawyer and former vice president of the Republic renewed his call for equal opportunity and gender parity on the sidelines of the International Women’s Day on Wednesday.
“This is a day to celebrate achievements and progresses, but it is also a day to focus on what must still be done to achieve equal rights and opportunities for women. At the centre of this effort is the economic empowerment of women. We must tackle the many challenges that stand in the way of women’s full participation in formal economic activity,” he said.
“From the beginning, we must ensure that girls and young women have equal access to education and an equal chance to succeed. They need to be able to pursue studies of their choice, especially in areas that have traditionally been the preserve of men.”
The UDP leader posited further that one of the achievements of The Gambia since independence is that girls and boys are equally represented in primary and secondary education, noting that there are currently more female students enrolled at institutions of higher learning than males.
“This is great progress,” he said, “but it has yet to translate into our boardrooms and the formal economy, where women are more likely to be unemployed than men. Around half of all women in The Gambia are unemployed, including those who have given up looking for work. Moreover, on average, women still earn far less than men.”
“We must overcome the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Even women who have jobs are often expected to do housework and childcare, making it more difficult for them to find employment, earn a decent wage, be promoted, or start a business. This situation is simply unacceptable. We must work inclusively to change the status quo in The Gambia and advocate for change across the world.”
“The economic empowerment of women is an important pillar of our struggle to achieve gender parity. We have recognised that unequal access to resources and economic opportunity makes it more difficult for women to escape situations of abuse and violence.”
“On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we call on men and women across society to intensify the fight against gender-based discrimination,” he pleaded.
Mr. Darboe added that globally, The Gambia is actively involved in the UN Women’s Generation Equality Campaign, which is mobilising countries and people worldwide to achieve gender equality in this generation.
“Through this, we must work tirelessly for economic transformation that empowers and benefits women. Practically, this means improving access for women to financial services, business opportunities, land and technology,” he stated.