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Awareness Walk on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence to Wrap Up 16 Days of Activism against GBV

10 December 2018

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 10th December 1948 and to mark the end of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), an awareness walk was held along the Kairaba Avenue, following which were the delivery of solidarity statements at the Youth Monument. The ceremony was graced by Gambians from all walks of life; students, the police, army personnel, UN staff and other interested persons were amongst the throng who marched through the city to convene at the monument.

 

The commemoration ceremony was hosted by Ms. Fatoumatta Saho of the WFP Country Office, and was headed by a panel of distinguished members of society, namely Dr. Houssain Tomassi, Special Advisor on Transitional Justice to the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mrs. Saffie Sankareh-Farage, Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Vice-President & Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Mrs. Nessie Golakai-Gould, Interim Country Representative of UNDP The Gambia, Mr. Kunle Adeniyi, UNFPA The Gambia Representative, among others.

 

The ceremony commenced with spoken word performances by students of the University of The Gambia, followed by an opening statement from Dr. Thomassi on behalf of the Minister of Justice. In his statement, Dr. Thomassi stated that the UDHR is a powerful mechanism for fighting discrimination and promoting accountability, adding that human rights are natural rights and are basic and fundamental to human existence. He also highlighted that it is only through the safety of life, that we are able to pursue economic livelihood. He urged that the international community has a role to uphold & defend the rights of people everywhere, and applauded the UN for constantly ensuring that the rights of all are fought for, and respected. He also stressed the need to strengthen civic education with a view to breaking cultural barriers that obstruct change.

 

Speaking on behalf of The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in The Gambia (TANGO), Mrs. Tabou Njie-Sarr, heralded the timeliness of the ceremony. According to her, the commemoration presented an opportunity to appreciate the efforts of government and all other stakeholders in promoting & protecting human rights in The Gambia, and expressed hope that the day would also provide an opportunity for all Gambians to reflect on the future and find ways to compound the gains already made in human rights. She also stressed the need for affirmative action policies to be put in place to increase women’s representation and participation in the government and in the judiciary. She went on to applaud the UN for its vital role in promoting women’s rights in The Gambia

 

As part of the celebrations, a short debate interlude was held by the Banjul Open Debate group on the motion ‘The Gambia is fulfilling its human rights obligations.’ Both sides of the debate brought forth some very salient points, however, those against the motion came out on top, using argument points such as the glaring non-representation of women in governmental & decision-making processes since independence and poor or non-existent country planning to accommodate persons with disabilities in education, health and sports.

 

UNDP Country Representative ad interim, also delivered a statement where she urged The Gambia, in partnership with the UN, to continue the high-spirit campaign to eliminate violence against all, especially women and girls. She commended the Gambian government for progress made in addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and promoting human rights since coming into power in 2016, pinpointing some of the efforts made by the government in relation to human rights, particularly the establishment of a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) unit at the Ministry of Justice. She pressed on the need for Gambians to continue to have open and loud conversations surrounding GBV against women and girls, but not forgetting men and boys as well. She also underscored the UN’s continued commitment to supporting the government and people of The Gambia to build a nation void of sexual and gender-based violence and fear, and where everyone’s human rights are respected.

 

A keynote address was delivered by the Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Vice President on behalf of the His Excellency the Vice President. Here, she acknowledged the great works that had been accomplished through the UDHR, but added that there is still a lot of work to be done. She highlighted that although men and boys suffer from GBV, women and girls suffer significantly more both in public and in private, adding that GBV in particular and Violence against Women (VAW) in general, is not only perpetrated by men, but women as well. She pointed out that globally, the underlying factor resulting to harmful practices against women and girls, is gender inequality, and therefore it must be addressed in all discussions. She re-echoed the government’s commitment to ensuring that the fundamental human rights of all, especially women and girls, are respected and protected, showcasing the integration of SGBV and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) into the curriculums of all health professional schools in The Gambia as one of the ways the government is showing commitment to fighting SGBV.

 

Mrs. Farage, concluded her statement by thanking the UN & Network Against GBV for their contribution in this regard, and praised the UN for training the army on SGBV and integrating GBV into the curriculum of the police training school. She also pointed out that although 1576 cases of SGBV were reported between 2014 and 2017 in The Gambia, this is not enough, as perpetrators are seldom prosecuted. She stressed that the protection of women & girls from violence is not only morally correct, but is also imperative to ensuring their human rights, health and dignity are respected and upheld.

 

The ceremony was climaxed by drama performances from Kitabu and Group, after which a representative of the UN Gender Team, gave the closing remarks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, contact:

Haddy Jonga

Programme Analyst, Communication

UNFPA The Gambia

Tel: +220 3303073

Email: jonga@unfpa.org