Source: The Daily Observer
A deputy permanent secretary at the Office of the Vice President has reaffirmed that the government of The Gambia has amply demonstrated its commitment to peace and security by ratifying international conventions and enacting national laws and policies to ensure the protection of women's rights and their empowerment.

Bintou Gassama was speaking recently during a day's forum organised for women working in the security apparatus, by the West African Network for Peace Building, Gambia Chapter (WANEP). The forum, held at the conference hall of the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), was meant to create awareness on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325.

Highlighting more scores registered by The Gambia in this area, she said the government in further demonstrating its commitment to women's security and development, has developed a National Action Plan in response to the recommendations for member states of the United Nations to fast track the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

"It should be recalled that in October 2000, through the unanimous adoption of the UNSCR 1325 Resolution, the UNSC formerly recognised the relationship between women, peace and security and the importance of women's participation as reflected in leadership, empowerment and decision-making. The Resolution addresses women, peace and security and calls for women's full participation in all peace building activities, from negotiation to post-conflict reconstruction. This was followed by the adoption of other complementary resolutions to address the gaps identified in UNSCR1325. These include UNSCR1820, 1889 and 1960; the core mandates of which were summarised," she informed.

Gassama however observed that progress in implementation of the Resolution has been slow, especially in West Africa where very few countries have put in place national action plans.

"The reasons for this slow pace of implementation are believed to be inter alia: the lack of political commitment, limited capacity (technical knowhow), lack of resources, limited awareness and understanding of the provisions of UNSCR 1325, lack of effective coordination mechanism and inadequate sensitisation on UNSCR 1325," she told the forum.

"Women, children and girls are the ones suffer most during wars and conflicts including all sorts of violations of their human rights. As such their participation in peace processes, decision-making, protection of women and girls in wars, prevention of conflicts and prosecution of perpetrators of sexual and gender based violence is an important milestones," she stressed.

The DPS further pointed out that to ensure effective gender mainstreaming and protection of the rights of women and girls, the country ratified many international conventions and national laws, among them, Women's Act 2012, National Gender and Women Empowerment Policy 2010-2020, Children's Act, Trafficking in Person Act, the Refugee Act and recently the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual offensive Acts of 2013. These measures, she maintained, have led to considerable increase in the number of reported cases of sexual and gender based violence at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) to more than 20 cases from January to June 2014.

Speaking further, Gassama indicated that in The Gambia, various strategies have been put in place to mainstream gender and to ensure women's participation in all aspects of conflict prevention, resolution, peace building and decision-making, reconstruction as well as prevention of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.

Also speaking, the coordinator of WANEP-Gambia, Pamela Cole, said The Gambia has made significant gains with regards to the UNSCR 1325, adding the reason for targeting women in the various security units is for them to share the experience to be gained from the training with their colleagues.

She thanked the government for the giant stride it has taken to curb violence against women.

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