Tuesday, March 21

Westminster Foundation for Democracy holds advocacy seminars for NA members

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Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a United Kingdom public body dedicated to supporting democracy around the world, Friday and Saturday held an advocacy seminar with the National Assembly select committee on Gender, Children and Social Welfare.
The seminar, held at Baobab Hotel, was to raise the awareness and understanding of lawmakers about inclusion and equality as a means to identify and address barriers to quality participation and increased representation of women in decision-making institutions and women in politics.

Madi Jobarteh, country director for WFD, explained that in The Gambia, there is discrimination exclusion against women due to the country’s social and cultural system which affects the nation in many ways.

He stated that only a few women are in the assembly and local councils. He reiterated that none of the political parties is led by women and that women seem to be there to acquire deputy positions.

“We target the committee because is the epic accountability institution in the country and they are mandated to protect rights and make sure public institutions perform. It is the institutions’ responsibility to deliver public goods and services to all Gambians and make sure no one is excluded on an account of his/her sex, disability, or other conditions,” he said.

The human rights activist continued that the idea of inclusion and diversity is to help them look at their functions to make sure the laws are to the advantage of women and not to their disadvantage.

He said the National Assembly members approve budgets and should make sure the budget is allocated in areas of services, sectors and facilities that will serve women.

Zoe Clack, WFD programme officer for West Africa, expressed the importance of the engagement while stating that they deal with complicated topics like early marriage, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence by looking at it from the angles of law and human rights.

On how to change the people’s mindset who are already relieved in social norms and tradition, she stated that the National Human Rights Commission makes a good point that human rights are flexible to look at the context, values and beliefs of the people.

On what government should do in playing their part in the advocacy programme, she said: “More advocacies are important to engage with the National Assembly members in order to connect with people on the ground to understand the problem and context to drive change.”