Strengthening Women’s Representation Across Government, Business, and Civil Society Sectors in The Gambia
On March 2, 2020, the Gambian NGO Future In Our Hands, along with support from the Center for International Private Enterprise, the World Movement for Democracy, and the National Endowment for Democracy, convened the “Women Deliver Forum” in Banjul, The Gambia. Attended by over 130 people, the conference brought together leaders from three sectors of society—civil society, government, and private enterprise—to discuss ways to improve female representation in positions of authority, as well as ways to make governance more inclusive of underprivileged groups. A focus of the forum was to develop creative models that people can use to reach out across sectors to work together towards these shared goals. Attendees discussed and held interactive learning exercises on topics such as:
- An inclusive implementation of The Gambia’s new National Development Plan
- Avenues for collaboration among women leaders to strengthen the ethics of governance
- Inclusive approaches to entrepreneurship and policy engagement
Opening remarks were led by Hannah Forster, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ACDHRS), who spoke on the topic of strengthening women’s voices in governance and broader society in The Gambia.
“Women feel discouraged to voice their problems and concerns and are exposed to the constant pressures of a patriarchal society. We must note the importance of women’s participation and accept that they must lead in the change making democratic process to deliver. …Women need to be encouraged, to get out of their comfort zones and reach across the different sectors; to find mutual interests in advancing inclusive democracy in policies and reform that benefits them and their communities. Government efforts, though small, need to be complimented. And all hands must be on deck because the role of women in government’s public and private partnership, cannot be over emphasized,” she said.
You can watch her speech below, or watch the webcast of the full conference here. You can also join the ongoing conversation about these issues on social media at #SectorsTogether4Prosperity.
The Forum’s panels produced the following recommendations:
- The Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare should intensify campaigns and sensitizations for the elimination of all forms of regressive structural and cultural norms, traditions, and narratives that limit economic and political participation of women in national development.
- The Women’s Bureau and other women led or women friendly organizations should intensify campaigns and advocacy for quota allocation for women in parliament and in the executive levels as a demonstration of gender parity.
- The Women’s Bureau and other stakeholders should intensify education campaign targeting communities, traditional and religious leaders for the elimination of traditional misconceptions that hinder women’s participation in economic and political space.
- The Women’s Bureau and its line Ministry should advocate for the review of the land policy that has been in existence since 1969, for a more women friendly policy
- Stakeholders involved in promoting women’s issues should intensify efforts in enhancing capacities of women for effective and efficient participation in economic and political space in The Gambia.
- The Women’s Bureau and its line Ministry should continuously advocate for the formulation of pro – poor and women friendly policies for increased participation of women and marginalized groups in national development.
- The donors of this conference should consider funding such conferences annually for continuously popularization of women’s issues in The Gambia.