“International Women’s Day that offers the world the opportunity to reflect on the status of women, with the objective of highlighting their contributions, achievements as well as their limitations in terms of promotion of gender equality and empowerment at all levels.” So said the Mrs. Isa Davies, Director of Information Services in a interview with Musoolula Bantaba anchor.
As the world, The Gambia included, commomerated International Women’s Day on March 8 - last week Wednesday, Musoolula Bantaba went out and about sounding the opinion of various people .
In an effort to provide an amalgam of thoughts, we spoke to women as well as men for the derivation of a meaning for the day, manners of commemoration and the impacts expected.
The Bantaba was first opened to Mrs. Isa Davies, Director of Information Services who has this to say when asked to share her view:
“As a woman I feel happy, because International Women’s Day makes our voices to be heard and for us not to remain in limbo. I think this year’s celebration is worth celebrating, because it is a day that women come together to celebrate their achievements politically, economically; past, present and the future. Women have been doing really well.”
As women, she said: “We cannot forget that women have achieved and improved themselves over the years. Women are going to universities, women can work and still have and raise a family, and women are astronauts, engineers, prime ministers, politicians and even presidents.”
Madam Davies said International Women’s Day (IWD) was first declared in 1910 with the first IWD event held in 1911. 2011 sees 100 years of International Women’s Day. Having been celebrated around the world, widespread increased activity has been anticipated globally on 8 March 2011 honoring 100 years of International Women’s Day.
She added that The Gambia is a country that lived for several centuries simultaneously and our people encapsulate all the contradictions that come from being a multi cultural, multi religious society– especially in the case of women
She stated that IWD is a day that offers the world the opportunity to reflect on the status of women, with the objectives of highlighting their contributions, achievements as well as their limitations in terms of promotion of gender equality and empowerment at all levels.
For Mariama Bah, lady councilor for Banjulinding Ward, this day is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, economic or political.
She pointed out that it is an occasion to take a fleeting glance at past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, to look ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
“I think women leaders should address issues that are affecting rural women. They appear to be fighting for our rights and welfare, but it is the other way round. More investment in improving the lives of rural women could create a springboard for better education, improved health and higher income,” said Binta Dampha of Ndungu Kebba, North Bank Region, adding that the rural woman is so unfortunate.
Fatou Touray, Senior reporter with The Gambia Info in sharing her view said the gap between men and women should be bridged by raising awareness on a day like IWD.
“Women should know the worth of celebrating the day. It helps us to come together and unite in a unified platform, in an outward appearance to stand for ourselves and for men to join and help us too, because whatever we do is for the sake of men too and they cannot be left out in a day like this,” she said.
He went further to state that the global event has grown from strength to strength and has become an event which brings women and other stakeholders together to promote and advocate for more cohesive and coordinated interventions towards effectively addressing the critical needs of women in the social, political and economic processes.
Oley Dibba, a midwife nurse at Sinchu Alhajie said, “Cognizant of the prevalence of violence against women and girls, and its horrendous effects on their fundamental rights and freedoms, and physical and mental health, efforts to combat these should be addressed and emphasized on a day like this.”
For Mariama Kagbo, a lecturer said the following questions should be addressed on such a day:
1. What effective strategies should be adopted to promote and implement the rule of law against perpetrators of violence and all other forms of gender based violence?
2. How government should put an end to impunity and ensure accountability with regard to violence?
3. How the national financial policy should be expanded to include provisions for comprehensive support to victims of violence?
4. What are some examples of best practices whereby gender sensitive approaches have been used to include women and girls in the design and approaches that have been used to include women and girls in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of violence?
This day, according to Foday Malang, should make women proud, inspired, and envisioned. Women have made great strides in equality yet there is still a great deal to be achieved on many fronts. “IWD provides a unique and global opportunity to reignite, inspire and channel women’s equality for the future,” he added.
Meita Touray, reporter News & Report Magazine stressed that the symbol of women’s long struggle to achieve equality should not be reduced into a marketing gimmick.
“We need economic and social policies that support women’s empowerment. We need programmes and budgets that promote non-violence. We need a positive image of women in the media. We need laws that say violence is a crime, that hold perpetrators accountable and are enforced,” she implored.
According to the female pen pusher, this day highlights the growth and achievements of women in the developed and developing world. She added that events are held to honour women’s various advancements but at the same time, it serves as a reminder to all, of how much more needs to be done to improve and maintain women’s equality in all aspects of life and the need to continue being vigilant towards the same goal.
“This day also brings into focus the need to better all aspects of a woman’s life in society, be it economical, political or social,” she articulated.
For Lamin Njie, a university student: “It is only by acting together can we create more equal and peaceful societies. Let us all, on this IWD, resolve to make a difference,” he said.
“Women and men should continue to work as hard as we can to ensure that girls and women are accorded the rights and opportunities they deserve. Global problems are too big and too complex to be solved without the full participation of women. Strengthening women’s rights is not only a continuing moral obligation--it is also a necessity as we face a global economic crisis,” he said
Momodou Dem, a reporter with the Foroyaa newspaper noted that issues that hinder women’s contributions should be the main issue to be addressed on a day like International Women’s Day as far as their rights are concerned.
“The most pathetic thing“, he said “is seeing an old woman being arraigned before a court only for being a beggar on the streets.”
He added that the celebration does not only mean marching or raising banners with fluttering slogans in the air, but to also focus on the critical issues to chart a way forward.
Fatoumatta Ceesay, an accountant with The Daily News said most of the celebrations are held in the urban areas forgetting the rural women most of whom do not know the existence and the significance of the IWD in connection with their fundamental rights.
“Women gardeners among others should be given enough storage facilities to ease their work, in their efforts to earn dignified living,” she emphasized.