Workshop Remarks on the Sensitization of National Assembly Members on the Procedures for Women
Your Excellency, the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia and Secretary of State for Women’s Affairs,
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly (the deputy Speaker),
Honourable National Assembly Members,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Able Resource Persons,
Director and staff of ACDHRS,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure and singular privilege to be here today to participate in the Opening Ceremony of what I consider a very timely event. I am reliably informed that, The ACDHRS has been instrumental in promoting human rights on the African continent and its contribution over the years cannot be over-emphasised. A significant contribution has been the Organisation of the NGO Forum which, provides a platform for continental and international NGOs to come together and discuss and review the situation of human rights in Africa.
In addition to this international in-put the Centre is also engaged in the promotion of rights in its host country The Gambia. In this context specific focus has been given to the promotion of women’s rights which are also human rights. We, at the Embassy, feel particularly honoured to finance initiatives of this nature and to support the ACDHRS’s mandate of capacity building in the area of human rights with specific focus on women’s rights.
As you may be aware the United States is interested in issues of promoting human rights in the world. This year we observe the sixtieth year of the establishmenft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite the fact that such an instrument has been in existence for so long, human rights violations still persist particularly affecting the greater number of the world’s citizens which women. This indicates that there is need to continue to promulgate the principles of human rights even more aggressively and for all strata of society. We need to keep talking and educating each other on the unpleasant circumstances of so many of the world’s people.
It is common knowledge that women have been disadvantaged, deprived and marginalised not only in Africa but globally. Even in the developed world, in the United States as a working example, women also endure inequality, discrimination and abuse disproportionately. Issues such as rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and wage disparity exist. The kinds of deprivations women the world over have had to endure have necessitated the development of various instruments that NAMS will be exposed to at this workshop.
The objective of this short course is very pertinent to promoting the rights of women and ensuring them a better status. I hope that Members of the National Assembly will, after this sensitization, be well equipped to champion the case of women at their level as they consider and pass bills.
Honourable Speaker and Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to recognise through her Excellency the Vice President the significant advancements made by the current government on the issue of women’s rights No doubt a lot of effort has been put into developing many documents geared towards empowering women such as the Women’s Bill which is yet to be passed into law. This is a laudable initiative. However there is still much work to be done in developing appropriate mechanisms which will acknowledge in full the rights of women. Attitudes of members of society need to be changed. Attitudes do not change suddenly but require constant sensitization, reinforcing, and reminders of the principles we as a nation have committed ourselves to observe by signing the various documents. Laws alone cannot ensure change we need attitudinal change. It is thus left with the Honourable National Assembly Members to apply the knowledge and skills acquired over the next three days to this end.
I therefore wish to congratulate the Executive Director of the ACDHRS for bringing forth this initiative to sensitize National Assembly Members. Indeed, when the ACDHRS contacted the US Embassy with a proposal for sensitizing members of the National Assembly on instruments for women’s rights, we were more than pleased to support the event
In conclusion, I want to take this opportunity to express the Embassy’s delight to work with the Centre in promoting rights and to assure you of our commitment to support similar ventures. Finally I wish you all a successful workshop.
I thank you for your kind attention.