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Source: The Daily Observer
Women and girls must have equal access to resources and opportunities to reach their full potential, says Siaka Marong, monitoring and evaluating specialist of Women's Bureau.

He made these remarks on Tuesday during a one-day sanitization and capacity building of stakeholders on gender, gender-based violence and violence against women and girls, organized by the Women's Bureau at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

Marong remarked that the often skewed distribution of capabilities needs to be addressed with renewed urgency to build women's economic and social security. This, he noted, must include efforts to promote decent work, reduce women's time burdens and provide access to and control over land and productive assets, as well as to energy and water and sanitation. The monitoring and evaluating specialist of Women's Bureau noted that violence against women and girls is a manifestation of gender-based discrimination that seriously inhibits their abilities to enjoy rights and freedom on an equal basis with men and boys. "Globally, one in three women have experienced physical and sexual violence at some point in their lives. This violence, which causes great physical and psychological harm to women and girls, is a violation of their human rights, constrains their ability to fulfill their true potential and carries great economic cost for them and for society," Siaka stated.

The deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Women's Affairs office of the Vice President, Abdoulie Bah, explained that the role of government in eliminating violence against women and girls is two-fold. Firstly, he said, it ensures that there are preventive measures to mitigate violence and secondly to put in place legislative measures in litigating and addressing impunity. According to him, the government of The Gambia to this effect has set up a broad-based mechanism in addressing violence against women through the domestication of international conventions such as the CEDAW, the Protocol of the African Charter on Human Rights of Women in Africa, the Beijing Platform of Action into the Women's Amendment Act 2012 etc.

DPS Bah also told the gathering that the formulation of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offence Bill 2012 was a significant milestone in addressing violence against women and girls. "The purpose of the domestic bill is to combat domestic violence, provide protection for the victims of domestic violence, particularly women and children as well as to harmonize the provision of CEDAW in the national legislation," he added. He further stated that The Gambia has signed and ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights on Women in Africa in 2006 without reservation, thus making it a party to both conventions.

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