As events unfold around the world for a two week commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV), The Gambia was not left behind in solidarity with the world during the period. The 16 Days Activism Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy were individuals, organizations and groups around the world reflect and call for a common action on the elimination of all forms of violence against women. It’s also used a forum to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels. This 16-days period has always been with observance with a significant day November 29, International Human Rights Defenders Day which is also an issues affecting WOMEN around the world. Women still continue to be victims and been victimize by society which expose them to violence of all forms within the home and community.
With this year’s theme, ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s challenge Militarism and end Violence against Women’. The advocate is focused on awareness and action on many issues against gender based violence and militarism and the promotion of peace which is the foundation for the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. This put more emphasis on the link between women struggle of economic and social rights locally and internationally which exposes them to violence. Violence against women has an economic and development issue, which can slow economic growth and undermining efforts to reduce poverty within our communities. The Home is culturally known as safe spaces were women are protected and loved, unfortunately studies has shown that the home has now turned to a cage/place of terror and fear for many women. Most violence against women happen within the homes and the culture of silence still remains an issue as this violence goes on reported.
Action Aid international The Gambia on its part to strengthen its work and visibility to end Gender based violence in The Gambia has supported The University of The Gambia Students’ Union to conduct an academic debate competition among tertiary institutions to engage authorities, leaders, students, teachers to discuss about issues affecting women. The activity attracted about 100 participants from six tertiary institutions namely Management Development Institute (MDI) Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI), Stratford College, University of The Gambia (UTG) and International Business College (IBC) . The topics debated and discussed: Gender inequality is the driver of HIV and AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa rather than individual sexual behaviors, FGM is an unjust Practice; Gender parity in education is achieved at primary level in the Gambia however, more boys than girls’ transit to higher levels of education. Social media and its impact on youths, If women have ownership and control over land and other productive resources the world will be free of hunger, Unpaid care work deprives women from accessing their rights are topics dealt with in the first and second round and the topic for the finals was “All the polices of the Briton hood organizations (World Bank and IMF) are beneficial to Rural Poor Women”. Were UTG spoke for and GTTI against the motion. The first round of the debate was held on 25th November, second round on 29th November and final was on 6th December 2013. The debate competition was very educative and the arguments were well researched. The debate was not just a competition were winners and losers were declared, but it was platforms were students critically debated on women’s rights issues and gender based violence in a broader perspective and how to collectively work together to end menace in public and private spaces. After heated round of debate University of the Gambia were grown winners of the 16 Days Activisms on Gender Based Violence debate completion. The days of activism goes along side with other activities as Action aid International supported the Network Against Gender Based Violence to organized events in commemoration of the 16 days which included radio programs, march pass, drama performances, exhibitions and speeches.
As events ended The Gambia has made significant progress in putting together legislation that will protect women against domestic Violence. The Domestic violence bill was passed by the national Assembly on December 17th 2013. This when finally signed off by the President will provided a very strong legal fall back and even protective mechanism for women and girls. Efforts has been made by individuals and organizations to End Gender Based Violence but more needs to been done to have a zero tolerant society that is free from all forms of violence against women.