An Open Letter to Fatou Kinteh the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare
By Saidina Alieu Jarjou
Madam Minister, I refused to address you as “honourable” as I am flabbergasted on the recent rate at which our women are confronted with all forms of gender-based violence. Let us be honest, it is not an easy subject to talk about gender-based violence in the Gambia. Well for me I am comfortable doing so. But let us take a moment and get past the embarrassment because this discussion is so fundamental. It is real, and it is happening in the Gambia. In which I doubt if your office is doing any effort to halt? I want to believe that the Gambia is one of those 42 out of 55 nations that have adopted the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
That has been said, I want to remind you that sometime in October 2019 we were both delegates at the 4th Specialized Technical Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment on the Review of the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, STC on Beijing + 25 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In the said event we exchange greetings where I informed you that I was a representative of theCivil Society in our diversity drawn from across the continent in the 5 regions of Africa and the Diaspora.
Furthermore, as part of declarations that were made during the event is “States should accelerate the implementation of the various laws, policies and frameworks that have been adopted to address discrimination of women and gender-based violence. In doing so, States should consider the intersectional identities of women considering the vulnerabilities of adolescent girls and young women, women with disabilities and sexual minorities among other diversities”.
Madam Minister, it is almost two years after the declaration was made. Still, our women are confronted with all forms of gender-based violence. The high rate of rape is beyond imagination. Thus, despite significant progress, the status of women in the new Gambia remains largely unequal. This can be largely attributed to social attitudes and norms that normalize and perpetuate the victimization of women.
Finally, I reiterate the need for the Barrow led administration to recommit to women’s rights, allocate substantive and sustainable resources particularly financial resources, to reduce gender-based violence and meaningfully support the advancement of our women’s for a better Gambia we want.