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Women Leaders in Kombo Central and Kombo East reached consensus to protect their girls from FGM PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:48

 

 

Women Leaders in Kombo Central and Kombo East reached consensus to protect their girls from FGM

Participants from a series of three days workshops with women leaders from the Kombos in the West Coast Region came to consensus to end FGM and protect girls from Harmful Traditional practices. The three days reached women leaders from Brikama Sateba Cluster Kabillos, Kabafita Cluster Kabilos and Kombo East district. The workshops held in Brikama and Giboro Kuta respectively are part of the Save the Children funded 2014 project activities to end Female Genital Mutilation.

 

In his speech, the Alkalo of Giboro Kuta, Sherrif Jatta, welcomed GAMCOTRAP to his village and thanked them for hosting Kombo East Women leaders in his community. The Imam of the village, Muhammed Njie led the opening prayers. In solidarity to his colleague, the Alkalo of Pirang Berending, Maline Touray advised the participants to listen and share the information. He said FGM is not about religion but a problem women and girls are facing and finally prayed for peace and harmony in the country.

Speaking earlier at Brikama, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray said research has affirmed the negative effects FGM has on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. She noted that despite challenges, she is optimistic about the progress being made in the Kombos and urged the women to educate the girls rather than subject them to harmful traditional practices.

The resource person on Religion, Oustass Muhammad Sanuwo told participants that FGM is not an obligation on Muslim women nor has it been the examples from the family of the Prophet SAW. He informed them that FGM is not a requirement for spiritual cleanliness of a Muslim woman. Sanuwo further clarified that it is wrong for people to deny women sexual pleasure by subjecting them to FGM and said it is Allah who determines how much pleasure to give to people. He called on them to instill God fearing attitudes in their children to prevent them from engaging in wrong doings.

Participants were also exposed to dynamism of culture, the four principles of children’s rights, Women rights and Gender Based violence and the effects of FGM on sexual and reproductive health and rights. There was a call on the government to enact a law to prohibit FGM because it affects the health and rights of women and girls.

Prepared by GAMCOTRAP

September 2014

 

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:48
 
GAMCOTRAP ENGAGES WITH THE LIVED REALITIES OF RURAL WOMEN PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 16:30

 

 

 

 

GAMCOTRAP Engages with the Lived Realities of Rural Women

Nine hundred women and religious leaders in the Upper River, Central River and Lower River Regions are targeted to increase awareness on the lived realities of rural women within the context of QIWAMAH AND WILAYAH. The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), funded by The Tides Foundation, through the New Field Foundation will build the capacity of a critical mass of male and female religious leaders, women leaders and women of reproductive age in the rural areas to foster exchange of experience and mutual support of women’s rights and justice within their communities. This is within the context of the project entitled "Increasing Awareness and Documentation of Women's Rights Issues on the Life Stories on Qiwamah and Wilayah in Three Districts of Rural Gambia." The project is specifically targeting 450 religious scholars and 450 women.

In 2012, GAMCOTRAP as a member of MUSAWAH, a global movement to promote Equality and Justice in the Muslim family undertook a research project on the lived realities of thirteen Gambian women within the context of QIWAMAH and WILAYAH (QIWI). While QIWAMAH and WILAYAH are contextualized as legal responsibilities of men providing protection and upkeep of the family, the data collected from the lived realities of the women revealed different narratives.

The data collected, revealed how women struggled in their daily lives to survive and support their families irrespective of whether the husband is alive or dead, or whether he is around or travelled or whether divorced or inherited. This is irrespective of geographical location, educational background, age or status. The high illiteracy rate among women, the prevalent rate of violence on women, and the strong adherence of deep-rooted culture and traditional practices exacerbate the problem. These coupled with women’s limited knowledge about their rights in their religion all have negative impact on women’s health and livelihood.

This is the main aim of the project sharing experiences and providing evidences of how QIWI concepts actually acts out or manifest for Muslim women in the Gambia. The voices of the thirteen (13) respondents have been developed into a video documentary and a booklet funded by New Field Foundation. These will be used as resource materials to raise the awareness of women, religious and Islamic scholars to effect change. The resource materials will be widely disseminated for people to appreciate what women experience. It will also serve as resource material for feminist analysis within the framework of Islam and Human Rights of women.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 16:34
 
CELEBRATING ZAINAH PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Thursday, 19 June 2014 14:45

 

 

 

A Letter to Zai, A Muslim Feminist and Activist

Dear Zainah Anwar,

As you celebrate your birthday in April, allow GAMCOTRAP to seize the opportunity to share your story with the world. It was in 1987 when you and some like-minded people challenged the global perception that Muslim Women cannot enjoy their basic human rights, thus establishing a now well recognized and respected organization Sisters in Islam- SIS. In less than a decade, this influence brought birth to yet another global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family - MUSAWAH. This is important because the dominant perception that the life of Muslim women can only be within the private space yet that space is muzzled with patriarchal interpretations of Islam and control over women. Your leadership has contributed to the struggle in search of the alternative voices for us within and outside of Islam. More Muslim women have gained cognizant that a religion that calls for peace, unity and respect for humanity cannot undermine its own people based on gender or sex.

Your leadership has contributed to challenging the notions of violence against women justified in the name of Islam. Today, MUSAWAH Advocates throughout the world, have learned from your courage and motivation to understand Women’s Rights in Islam from the lived realities of women perspectives as well as contextualized the text within the lived realities of Muslim Women.

Thus, Muslim women today have the ability and courage to question such patriarchal interpretation of Islam. Indeed you were right to say,

It’s as if in Islam, women don’t have any rights at all. One woman asked, if the house were on fire, would she then have to seek her husband’s permission to flee! Women cannot even use their common sense to save their (own) lives. This cannot be Islam. God is just. Islam is just.”

It is not by chance that the French government awards you its highest award, the “Legion of Honour”. It is with pride and indeed real honour that GAMCOTRAP joins the rest of the MUSAWAH advocates to celebrate this award and many of your great achievements in bringing women’s rights in Islam in the forefront of the global debate. You made us realize that we can have it all, be a Muslim, Feminist and Activist at the same time because they are compatible, we don’t have to choose one or the other.

GAMCOTRAP celebrates and congratulate you for boosting the image of all Muslim women. Thank you for everything you have given to humanity and particularly to women.


With Much love,

From GAMCOTRAP

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 15:01
 
NED LET THE FIGURES SPEAK FOR WOMEN IN GOVERNANCE AND LEADERSHIP PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 13:10

 

 

NEWS UPDATE

LET THE FIGURES SPEAK FOR WOMEN IN GOVERNANCE AND LEADERSHIP

The mass representation of women in ‘Ashobis’ during public gatherings, having the first female Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs, a few female cabinet ministers and a few female parliamentarians give an assumption that women are fairly represented in governance and leadership in the Gambia. Thus the question what more do women want? This question tends to silence the critical minds that say “let the figures speak for women”. It is under this backdrop that the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children – GAMCOTRAP in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy – NED brought together women and men from different political parties in the Gambia to engage in the discussion the theme: “Women’s participation in Governance and Leadership”. For the first three days, the discussions were held in series of workshops for women from various political parties in the Kanifing Municipality, Kombos of the West Coast Region and Banjul. The fourth day witnessed a consultation with key party representatives from various political parties.

Women participate in governance and leadership workshops

The first elected female politician in the Gambia, Honourable Nyimasatta Sanneh chairing the workshops, said Gambian women cannot continue to rely on the Gambian President’s gesture of nominating women to the National Assembly because the Constitution limits how many he can nominate. She called on both men and women to realise that there is need for more women to be voted so as to have a high representation in the Parliament. Honourable Nyimasatta Sanneh shared her experience during the first regime when she was the only female in parliament and had to talk to only men during her early years. She underscored the importance of the meetings which she noted will increase awareness and empower women will be elected to the National Assembly.

Experts in various fields engage in Women’s Political participation in governance and Leadership

The discussions were led by various experts in their relevant fields, engaged on the legal Context of Women’s Rights to political participation in governance and leadership, Case study on Women’s Political participation, Importance of Women’s Political participation in promotion Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, Role of National Council for Civic Education to Promote Women’s Political Participation in Governance and Leadership, Gender Issues in the promotion of Women’s Political Participation in governance and Leadership, Role of Media in the promotion of Women’s Political Participation in Governance and Leadership. The discussions amongst the participants revealed the need for more women representations and spelt out challenges for effective participation of women in governance and leadership. Amongst the issues raised during the three days specifically targeted to women in political parties, was that educated women shy away from partisan politics, women in opposition parties are intimidated by the arrest of opposition militants, limited financial support to effectively engage in raising awareness for women’s effective participation in politics, women lack resources to campaign for election, and limited access to the media among others.

Lawyer Sagarr Jahateh informed the participants that women have the right to participate in politics because of the constitutional provisions, international and regional commitments the Gambia has undertaken to promote women in governance and leadership.

Amie Sillah in her discussion on Women’s Political participation presented facts and figures that indicated that while there is 30% representation in the Cabinet, only 9% of the National Assembly is female and only 5 (representing 0.26 %) of the 1873 village heads (Alkalolu) are women. There is no female chief or governor in the Gambia.

Mary Small noted that awareness on sexual and reproductive health issues is important for representatives to take appropriate legislative measures to safe guard the rights of women and children against practices such as female genital mutilation and early/forced marriage. She enlightened participants on how practices such as FGM, early marriage, rape, sexual abuse undermine the dignity of women and girls in particular.

In her analysis, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray emphasized the importance of women to be educated so as to have them in the top positions where decisions on policy issues are taken such as the National Assembly. She emphasised that women community mobilizers and leaders also have important roles to play in the political arena but should not be deceived that they should vie for Parliamentary seats if they cannot read and write. She noted that the political landscape is not yet enabling for uneducated women to participate effectively and influence positive policies for women in parliament, because the criteria for the different leadership positions in governance are specified in the relevant national documents. These criteria are reverted to when the chips are down despite the fact that these women have been involved in politics and have something to offer. She appreciated the women mobilisers for their strength and powers and told them that “you can influence policy through your support to educated women and men you trust to represent you”. She underscored the relevance of numbers and called on women to recognize their strengths and advocate for their common agenda to increase the number of women in decision making positions. The social perceptions, religious misinterpretations and the economic status promote patriarchal principles that are entrenched in social structures and institutions that hinder women’s effective participation were discussed. She encouraged the women to reflect and analyse their situation and poor status and to make efforts to address them by improving on female representations at all levels of politics and governance.

National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) officer, Mr. Kebba Jobe shared the relevant Constitutional provisions that empowers his office to do Civic education and appreciates the efforts undertaken by GAMCOTRAP to raise more awareness about women’s participation in the political processes. He noted that women have equal rights to participate effectively in politics and called on all the political parties to consider the gender dimensions when selecting representatives in their various structures to increase the number of women in the various structures at all levels. He also called for tolerance, positive attitudes and perceptions towards women so as to encourage them to participation in governance and leadership.

The IEC Coordinator Mrs. Amie Bojang Sissoho, discussed how the media could be used to promote the image of women.

Participants at Consultation meeting at KMC Hall

During the workshop with key political party representatives, it was reiterated that if women are not well represented in decision making positions, there can be no transformation in the political processes. It was noted that women cannot be divided on rural/urban lines but to appreciate the roles of different women with regards to their strength and ability in mobilising for change. It was noted that while all women have a role to play people should recognise and appreciate the comparative advantages they have to make effective change. There was an appeal for relevant institutions and structures to respect the aspiration of women, to improve the number of women in parliament and other decision making positions. The women noted that the under representation of women in Parliament and key decision making positions have resulted to bills or laws prepared to advance the rights of women are subjected to scrutiny resulting to expunging the real essence of the documents.

Hence the need to promote gender equality and get more women into parliament where laws are?? made or passed for national development. Amongst the recommendations made were to have an ‘all parties’ forum for women and to advocate for the UN call for at least the 30% quota systems in their political parties when identifying aspirants for the various elections both at local and national levels. This will be in line with section 15 (1) of the Women’s Act 2010, which calls for temporary special measures in favour of women, “ Every organ, body, public institution, authority or private enterprise shall adopt temporary special measures as set out in this Act aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women.” They called for intensive Civic Education in raising gender consciousness regarding women and leadership through community (“bantaba”) meetings and use of the national media in particular. The important role of the media to promote positive portrayal of women aspirants and politicians as well as gender stereotypes and misconceptions about women taking leadership in public institutions were highlighted, as well as promotion of peace in politics and respect of opposing views. It was stated that having different partisan affiliation is a Constitutional right and should not create enmity amongst women in particular.

That educated women should come out of their comfort zones and present themselves to engage in electoral politics and not wait to be offered positions. All the women noted with appreciation that bringing all the political parties and creating the inter-face between them was towards the right direction in advancing the effective participation of women in governance and leadership positions. They also appreciated the support of the “men who care” and noted that both men and women can be leaders.

Prepared by GAMCORAP

April 2014

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 13:40
 
RISING FOR JUSTICE OBR 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Thursday, 10 April 2014 10:52

 

 

 

 

 

Press Release: One Billion Rising Campaign 2014:

Theme: Rising for Justice to End Gender Based Violence

 

It is sixteen years ago when the Executive Director of V-Day Eve Ensler started a worldwide movement on the 14th February  to highlight the various forms of violence women and girls face across race, status or geographical location when she wrote the Vagina Monologue, which gave case studies of different forms of violence on women.

V- Day is celebrated on Valentine’s Day to bring focus to all forms of violence such as rape, early marriage, battering,  Female Genital Mutilation, amongst others and to contribute to the global efforts to end these atrocities in every country and community. According to the UN, 1 in 3 women is a victim of one or more forms of violence. The WHO says that violence against women - particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women - are major public health problems and violations of women's human rights.  Recent global prevalence figures indicate that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

It is in this context that V-Day started the one billion rising campaign to present women as survivors of violence and determined to demand for justice to all forms of violence against women based on gender wherever they are situated.  In a tele-conference with journalists worldwide, Eve Ensler described the 2014 One Billion Rising as “powerful revolutionary energy that is rising around the planet and the plans that the people have made in 180 countries in towns, villages and cities is astonishing.  It all started with a vision of how to address the issue of I in 3 women being violated.”

V-Day Coordinator for the One Billion Rising in West Africa, Dr. Isatou Touray is on a tour in the West Africa sub region to visit Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal and the Gambia to organize and coordinate the 2014 One Billion Rising on the 14th February.

In an interview with journalists, Dr. Touray noted that the One Billion Rising Campaign started with the Zero Tolerance to FGM Day on the 6th February through media advocacy.  She highlighted that FGM is wrongly associated with Islam as it continues to affect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.  In her capacity as Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, a leading women’s rights organization in the campaign to end FGM in the Gambia, Dr Touray asserted how women as survivors of FGM and their communities have been empowered to realise that they can end FGM, early marriage and other forms of violence against women by rising and making public declarations marked by the dropping of the knife celebrations.  Dr. Touray appreciates the support of partners who make it possible for her organization to reach out to communities and thanked the media, the radio stations in particular for disseminating the messages in the local languages to the masses.

Speaking in the area for justice to end FGM, Dr. Touray called on the Gambia government to move the gains made by the communities further by enacting a legislation to prohibit FGM. It could be recalled that a draft proposed bill to prohibit FGM has been subjected to a national consultation and submitted to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs at the Office of the Vice President and Minister for Women’s Affairs, the Women’s Bureau, the Justice Ministry and the office of the Ombudsman.  The GAMCOTRAP Executive Director said it is justice for the voices of the communities calling for a law to end FGM to be honoured and thanked the local religious leaders in their various communities for supporting the campaign to promote the dignity of women and girl children.

The V-Day West Africa Coordinator, Dr. Touray called for political will to support the coordination of the efforts to end FGM with legislation.  She concluded that Rising for justice is about showing solidarity by coming together to celebrate the courage of women survivors of violence.  Dr. Touray emphasized that V-Day amplifies and support grassroots organizations and animate for mass solidarity.

The rising in the Gambia is organized by GAMCOTRAP in partnership with TANGO on Friday 14 February 2014, starting at 9 am with a street parade from the traffic lights on Kairaba Avenue along Bertil Harding Highway to TANGO head office. An open forum on ‘Rising for Justice’, the global theme for the 2014 One Billion Rising Campaign, will continue at the venue. It will bring together children, youth, women and men from all walks of life including people with disabilities, among other actors in the wider civil society as well as NGOs and development partners.  The media have started rising by offering airtime and space in the newspapers for discussions and publication of articles and press releases.

Gender-based violence is prevalent in the Gambia because of a deep-seated socio-cultural beliefs and practices that inform our social, economic and political ideas, systems and relations. In our homes, work places, institutions of learning and in our communities, women and girls continue to face various forms of abuse and exploitation from their male partners, be they fathers, uncles, husbands, brothers, superiors and colleagues among others, which go unnoticed sometimes, and at times deliberate, but all the time absolutely wrong! Because of the entrenched patriarchy and misconceived Islamic teachings, both men and women are socialized to believe and practice these forms of violence against women as part of our culture and therefore normal. We are oblivious to the fact that as society, so long as we continue to marginalize, suppress and exploit one half of the population, then we are harming ourselves and retarding our progress and freedom, thus limiting our humanity. GAMCOTRAP and TANGO call on all individuals, institutions and organizations in the public, private and civil society sectors to realize and fulfill their obligation to the protection of the human rights of women and girls. This is both an individual and collective responsibility that must be fulfilled if we are to ensure a decent environment for the unfettered development and empowerment of women and girls, hence the overall advancement of our society.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 April 2014 12:14
 
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