WANEP Gambia, under its Women and Peacebuilding programme (WIPNET), joined forces with women and men of Lower River Region to mark International Women’s Day on 27April at the Agricultural Rural Farmer Training Centre in Jenoi, Lower River Region, on the theme “Women in Decision Making’’, supported by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through WANEP Regional office.
It added that WANEP Gambia every year takes the celebration to various regions with the aim of decentralizing the celebration and the process of popularizing United Nations Resolution 1325 – Women Peace and Security and other accompanying national legal frameworks such as the 2010 Women’s Act through awareness-creation and capacity building.
The WANEP press release stated that in 2011the celebration was held in the North Bank Region.
This year the celebration took the form of a conference in which eminent discussants of diverse backgrounds and experiences dilated and deliberated on the Resolution and its implications for women in The Gambia in terms of peace time and conflict. Participants were drawn from local government institutions and community-based organisations, women’s groups, teachers, health workers, students and development workers alike.
Deputising the Governor, Lamin Saidy, in delivering the goodwill message, welcomed participants and organizers of the conference in the region.
He thanked WANEP Gambia for their contribution in supporting women in conflict prevention and peace building processes.
He expressed his appreciation for the inclusion of schoolchildren in the conference as this manifests clearly that the programme has an objective of sustainability.
He advised the students to be good ambassadors of peace as well as agents of change in their respective schools and communities.
To conclude his message, Mr Saidy urged the women and men in the conference to be partners in building peace and work towards conflict prevention.
Other speakers at the opening ceremony were the National Network Coordinator of WANEP Gambia and Ms Sophie Sarr, who moderated the programme
The discussants at the conference include Magistrate Dawda Jallow and Mr Kajali Sonko of Women’s Bureau, who discussed the topics: Women Peace and Security as it relates to UNSCR 1325, Gender and Governance and Maintstreaming Gender in Peace and Security.
Mr Jallow, in his presentation and discussion highlighted the background and nature of the UNSCR1325 and its implications for women generally including Gambian women.
The adoption of the Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security on October 31, 2000, was a watershed in the evolution of international women’s rights in the area of peace and security.
The formal and legal document from the Security Council requires parties in conflict to respect women’s rights and to support their participation and leadership in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and reconstruction, he mentioned.
International and regional instruments and mechanisms such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, The United Nation’s Security Resolution 1325 and the African Union’s (AU) Protocol on Women’s rights mandating women’s active participation and involvement in peace and security at all levels and sectors – both formal and informal – are regarded as significant.
It also endorses the inclusion of civil society groups - notably women – in peace processes and the implementation of peace agreements.
UNSC Resolution 1325 calls for increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in conflict prevention, management and resolution; attention to the specific protection needs of women in conflict, including refugees; increased support for women peacebuilders; no impunity for war crimes against women, including gender-based violence; gender perspective in UN peacekeeping operations and post-conflict processes; and gender perspective in UN Reporting and Security Council Missions.
The other discussant, Mr Kajali, brought to light steps the government has taken so far in domesticating the Resolution as well as other international and regional instruments.
In his presentation, Mr Sonko stressed that the Government of The Gambia recognizes gender equality and women empowerment as a key factor for the attainment of social and economic development.
Since 1980, the Government of The Gambia has implemented series of programmes and projects using the WID paradigm, according to Mr Sonko.
The National Policy for the Advancement of Gambian Women (NPAGW) 1999-2009 was formulated and implemented through partnership with Civil Society and Development partners.
He then zeroed in on the fifth thematic area of the Policy -Gender and Human Rights; Objective 4 that calls for the advancement of the implementation of UNSCR 1325 with a focus on participation, prevention and promotion.
UNSCR requires states to develop national action plans for its implementation and The Gambia is well into that process.
Other national framework instruments considered during the discussion were the Gender and Women Empowerment Policy and the most recent 2010 Women’s Act.
The programme was punctuated by poetry recitation and ended with rosette decoration of each participant in recognition of the efforts women are making to advance their cause as well the lighting of candles in remembrance of the numerous women around the world who have died or been trapped in unpleasant circumstances.