Source: The Point 

Seraphine Wakana, UN Resident Coordinator for the Republic of the Gambia has said that they have heard from prospective female candidates that they face cyber bullying and online attempts at character assassination, thereby affecting their participation and inclusion in the political space.

She therefore called for action to address abuse, exploitation and violations against women in the digital sector, particularly now, as we head towards Local Government Elections in April and May.

Ms. Wakana made these remarks yesterday at Bakadaji Hotel during the United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA's) commemoration of International Women's Day in partnership with the Government of The Gambia.

The National Dialogue which brought together technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and gender equality activists to highlight the role of all stakeholders in improving access to digital tools for women and girls in The Gambia.

International Women's Day is commemorated annually on the 8th of March as a global campaign celebrating the socio-economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

This year's theme was 'DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality' with the campaign theme bring#EmbraceEquity.

She pointed out that despite advancements in the protection of women's rights, The Gambia, like many countries is not immune to inequalities including in the digital sector.

She celebrated Gambian women in the Stem Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector and encouraged other women and girls to enter the STEM field, which broadens women and girls' education and opportunities.

She urged everyone to pledge their commitment towards supporting and advocating for increased representation of women and girls in science and technology.

Hon. Commissioner Janet Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie, African Union Special Rapporteur on the Rights of African Women, said every woman and girl has the human right to have access to the internet without being the subject of violence.

She added that women's access to the internet and digital violence against women are largely misunderstood and ignored both by the wider public and governments.

"A lack of adequate response to online violence against women leads to increasing harm and the exclusion of women from the internet, as perpetrators are left unpunished," she also said.

She therefore called for online violence against women to be addressed just as rigorously as offline violence against women, saying it will have a positive impact on promoting and protecting women's rights to freedom of expression and access to information and cater for an environment that allows women to participate in the digital world as fully as their male counterparts.

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