EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: The National Assembly select committee on health, women, disaster, humanitarian relief and refugees, Wednesday held a consultative meeting with key stakeholders on the 2019 draft women amendment of discriminatory Law.
Enacted by the president and the National Assembly, the Bill targets to review, amend and repeal all legislative provisions found to be discriminatory against women and girls in The Gambia in furtherance of the country’s international obligations and in line with the constitution and for connected matters.
Lamin Jawara, Permanent secretary of the Personnel Management office (PMO) said there is no systematic gender-based discrimination in recruitment, promotion and training in The Gambia. He said most of the sectors in the civil service have in fact surpassed the percentage recommended in their proposal.
“The teaching cadre is composed of 34 female in aggregate, while the figure for the nursing cadre stands at 64 percent female and for the accounting cadre they are at 46 percent. Similarly, the figure for immigration stands at 39 percent,” he said.
Mr Jawara said analysis have indicate that where women are qualified, they ever stand to surpass the men in terms of percentage employment rate, saying that mean there is no need to legislate for affirmative action for women in the country.
He recommended for the encouragement of women for them to build strong interest in areas where their participation still leaves much to be desired.
National Assembly Member for Tallinding, Fatoumatta Jawara said it is not that women are not ready to take responsibility or participate but their opposite sex is given more priority most of the time. “Families with a boy and girl will prefer the boy to further his education instead of the girl because many believe that girls are caregivers. Most of the domestic work is done by women.”
Isatou Dea Sawaneh, chairperson of National Women Council observed that there is need for improvement as most of the women are either in the teaching or nursing fields with very few of them holding chief executive officer, managing director and district chief positions.
Ndey Yassin, a member of the council suggested for the provision of position replacement where if a woman leaves a position to be replace by a woman.
Deputy permanent secretary of the ministry of women children and social welfare, Lala Jaiteh said they strongly promote 18 years as the minimum age of marriage, equalize the age of marriage between women and men and eliminate related exception as appropriate.
She they also apply efforts to end gender discrimination in national laws, uphold women rights to equality in national and citizenship laws.
“Due to Gambia’s plural legal system, matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance are usually decided in accordance with the Shari’ah or customary laws, which decide about 90 percent of such related case. This means that over 90 percent of women who are Muslims or subjected to customary laws in The Gambia are not protected from discrimination in matters of such nature, unless the recourse is sought through the common law courts.”
Mrs Jaiteh said even where women seek recourse through the common law courts, the relevant discrimination provisions of Shari’ah and customary laws would still be applied as a constitutional guaranteed source of law, under Section 7 of the constitution.
She said they agree for the harmonization of national legislation and recognized that in the amendment, women are not deprived of their right to positive cultural context, as enshrined in the Ecowas protocol, but observed that the application of Shari’ah and customary laws should be made subject to express provision of the fundamental rights enshrined in chapter 4 of the constitution protecting women from all forms of discrimination.
Story written by Amie Faye