Source: The Point
The Office of the Vice President, in collaboration with partners including grassroots organizations, NGOs, CSOs, the public and private sector and the UNDP, is convening a Development Forum on the theme "Closing the Gender Gap - the realities in The Gambia".
The area of focus will be on economic empowerment of women and specifically on women in agriculture.
Combined with wider audience participation, a group of key stakeholders will be engaged to jointly address the key aspects which would contribute towards the achievement of a more successful and vibrant agricultural sector, especially for women.
The forum will also consist of an assessment of the key achievements, gaps and challenges faced by women in agriculture and how addressing these will translate to the attainment of greater gender equality and women empowerment economically.
The issue of gender inequality is one that has plagued societies for centuries. A plethora of international and national conferences, workshops, seminars, lectures, discussions and debates have been convened and policy-making bodies formed in order to address gender equality and the advancement of women.
The culmination of which has been the creation of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) tasked with evaluating the progress on gender equality, identifying the challenges, setting global standards and formulating concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.
However, in order to bring about real change, there is need to focus on the issues affecting individuals both at national and local level; narrow down the subject matter to those that are of pressing concern in The Gambia and tackle them systematically.
These form the basis for this forum, to create real dialogue between these beneficiaries and stakeholders so that practical, concrete, viable and sustainable solutions can be defined.
The Government's aim for the agricultural sector, which contributes 26 per cent of the GDP to the economy, is to transform The Gambia into a major supplier of value-added agricultural products and to ensure food self-sufficiency.
The economic empowerment of women is at the heart of agricultural development in The Gambia.
Over 50 per cent of the population is made up of women. Gambian women constitute 78 per cent of the economically active population involved in agriculture compared to just 57 per cent of men.
Women are responsible for about 40 per cent of the total agricultural production. Women tend to be employed more in agriculture, in informal sector enterprises and small agricultural household.
However, their massive contribution does not translate into improved socio-economic status for them. This is why the forum would discuss broadly agriculture and women and specifically focuses on women's access to finance and entrepreneurship development; and the unpaid work.
The forum would also serve as a platform to discuss, share information and debate thematic issues. It is a direct mechanism for the advocacy and analysis of development interventions being implemented in The Gambia, as well as to increase knowledge, share best practices and build partnerships.
The aim is to strategically reposition the development forum series to create the arena where clearly defined network of people are established and link various sectors and key stakeholders that are capable of providing concrete solutions and further strengthening the cause of the relevant groups.
In order to achieve this, the focus will be on understanding the nature of the debate and the perspectives of the various actors, including potential benefactors so as to merge areas of common interest and to chart out a more sustainable cause of action.