African Women in Leadership Conference underway
Friday, June 15, 2012
edition of the annual Conference of the African Women in Leadership
Organisation (AWLO) Wednesday officially opened at the Sheraton Hotel on the
theme; ‘Empowerment For Impact’.
The three-day conference that brought together women from different countries is aimed at discussing issues believed to have been affecting women in all works of life with concrete views to solving them by interacting and harnessing suitable mechanisms aimed at empowering women to develop their leadership capability towards greater self and national development.
opening statement on behalf of the vice president and minister of Women’s
Affairs, Fatou Mbye, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly who is also
the chairperson of the National Women Council (NWC), thanked the organisers for
choosing The Gambia for the conference. She described the conference as timely
and relevant and noted that it creates a platform for unity, solidarity,
cohesion, dialogue and networking amongst them.
According to her, empowerment of
women is recognised and advocated for by international agencies such as UN in
terms of their full involvement on the basis of equality in the society
including their participation in the decision-making process in government and
access to power which is fundamental to the achievement to equality,
development as well as peace in order to advance women status in all aspects of
important because equity and equality are crucial elements that can advance
women’s level of welfare,” she said.
The deputy speaker further noted that women empowerment is a process aimed at enabling women who are denied opportunities to make better choices to advance their lives. She also observed that women particularly the rural poor continue to lack some opportunities in terms of decision-making and control over resources, which makes it difficult to improve their livelihood.
respect, the African continent faces difficult challenges in terms of women
taking part in decision-making, access to education, employment and health
services amongst others,” she noted. She
informed the gathering that in The Gambia women constitute about 55% of the
agricultural labour force and that they make significant contribution in the
drive towards food self-sufficiency and food security.
noted that in the face of the global food crisis and economic meltdown, the
government of The Gambia continues to pursue sound policies that seek to
empower women and ensure access to education and eradicate poverty for
sustainable development. Such policies, she said, include national agricultural
policy, gender and development policy and national agricultural investment
policy, amongst other programmes.
Deputy Speaker Mbye further informed the gathering of the back-to-the-land initiative spearheaded by the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, on the basis that; ‘we eat what we grow and grow what we eat’, adding that the support of The Gambian leader plays a significant role in improving rural women’s productivity in access to agricultural input, seeds and other labour saving devices.
outlined the challenges facing African women, saying a great number of women in
the continent still lack the ownership and control of land which cannot help in
boosting productivity but continue to have major impact on food
self-sufficiency in Africa. She stated
that in The Gambia the president has shown political commitment in creating
institutions and participatory framework for the cause of women and children.
continued: “Under the Second Republic, the government has made great strives in
improving and protecting the rights of women and children as well as improve
equity and equality inline with the international conventions and protocols by
eliminating all forms of discrimination against women.”
Dilating on the Women’s Act in The Gambia, Deputy Speaker Mbye explained that it was enacted in 2010 and aimed at ensuring significant milestone on efforts to protect women’s rights and improve competence, skills and knowledge for a more just and leadership system among others. She added that among the relevant things included in the Act is, free maternal health care provided by the Gambian leader.
Commenting on government’s unwavering commitment to gender in education, Hon. Mbye also explained that the President’s Empowerment for Girls Education Programme was created to ensure that more and many girls attend and pursue higher education at all levels and that affirmative action has been taken to ensure and improve equality education through encouragement of retention of girls.
Attai, the founder and CEO of AWLO commended the vice president and minister of
Women’s Affairs for hosting such an important conference.He dilated on the objectives of the
AWLO, saying it fosters an alliance amongst African women in leadership
positions as well as challenge African women to aspire to take up leadership
positions in their respective countries.
“It creates awareness for women in leadership positions for proper conduct in office and also create a platform for unity, solidarity, cohesion, dialogue and networking amongst members for self-development,” he added.
Author: Bekai Njie