The West Africa Network for Peace-building The Gambia (WANEP-Gambia) recently wrapped-up a three-day leadership training for 40 women drawn from the Upper River and North Bank Regions.
The training formed part of the one-year Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) funded project on promoting grassroots democracy and effective decentralisation. The project has the objective of contributing to capacity strengthening of community-based organisations, groups and associations in the promotion of grassroots democracy.
The training sought to arm women with knowledge and skills in advocacy, lobbying and communication, with a view to enable them share with members of their organisations, as well as mobilise other women for action.
Speaking at the occasion, the national Network coordinator of WANEP-Gambia, Pamela Cole, described the training as another activity of the AusAID funded project to enhance the participation of women in the democratic process of The Gambia. She spoke of the significance of the training, which she said provided the participants the requisite knowledge on very important topics related to the democratic process.
She emphasised that women rallying for men should not limit themselves to 'clapping' and 'dancing', but rather, they should prove that they are able to make strategic decisions and contribute constructively to the development of the country.
The programme officer of WANEP-Gambia, Anna Jones, also thanked the participants for honouring their invitation to a training that she said seeks to build the capacity of women on the fundamental principles and legal framework of democracy in The Gambia. The process, she went on, ought to be engendered to ensure that both men and women are seen to be part of the decision-making process. This, according to Jones, will not only enrich the process, but empower people for sustainable development and peace.
The WANEP-Gambia programme officer went on to assert that peace cannot be absent in their quest of promoting democracy as it is the foundation. She acknowledged the timeliness of the workshop considering the 2013 Local Government Elections that are just around the corner.
"The knowledge gained from the training will be used to empower women in the regions of The Gambia to be able to be part of the decision-making process," she reiterated. She told the participants that as the project proceeds, every activity is used as an opportunity to capture the contribution of stakeholders and partners to further sensitise them and provide the message and advocacy tools to be utilised during future capacity building workshops.
She used the occasion to thank AusAID for funding the project, and the government of The Gambia for creating the enabling environment to conduct such a workshop.
The governor of the Lower River Region (LRR), Lamin Darboe, for his part, thanked the staff and secretariat of WANEP-Gambia for the honour, and reiterated the stance of government regarding women and in the democratic process. While stressing that women have made some progress, he however observed that there is still more to be done in terms of contributing to the development of the nation.