The Pan-African Young Women Development Initiative (PAWODI) Friday conferred on the president of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, 'The distinguished patron of the organisation' award, in recognition of his pan-Africanism and unwavering efforts towards women empowerment, as well as his selfless services to humanity.
The award was received on behalf of the Gambian leader by the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou-Njie, at a ceremony held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
Receiving the award, VP Njie-Saidy commended the African Young Women Development Initiative for their boldness, saying: "You have chosen the right man. The president is not just the father of The Gambia but the whole of Africa and we really appreciate your move in awarding him."
She recalled the numerous awards received by the president from across the world for his selfless services to humanity. "God always rewards people who have good intentions for one another and that is the type President Jammeh is," she added.
While describing President Jammeh as one of the most generous persons they could ever meet, VP Njie-Saidy again said that the organisation has chosen the right person for the award, as the president has done a lot for the people of The Gambia and beyond, with his efforts being recognised even beyond the country.
"He [President Jammeh] believes in traditions and positive values in Africa and he always says that we are Africans and that no matter how long a tree stays in the river, it would never become a crocodile," she remarked.
The vice president pointed out that it is during President Jammeh's time that women are now at a standard where they were not before, even though there were women queens in the early days. "He loves Africa and has shown great respect for young mothers," she stated, while recalling a comment made by someone from another part of the world who said he loves our president because of the great respect he shows to his mother.
VP Njie-Saidy then reminded the gathering that it is because of the president's women empowerment that more and more women have became engineers, doctors and many other relevant professionals. She used the opportunity to advise the young women not to work in isolation, but rather work in partnership towards common goals.
She thanked the young women and assured them that the president's door would always be open for them despite his busy schedule.
Presenting the award, Dr Jophia Nanker Gupar, the founder and president of PAWODI, said the organisation was born out of the vulnerability and unique challenges of young women arising from the negligence, debilitating hunger and passive poverty and most importantly, the gross lack of socially inclusive opportunities that add value to life and make existence meaningful.
"Your Excellency, I am particularly eternally grateful for your gracious acceptance to father, nurture and mentor this nascent organisation not only to ensure and facilitate the realisation of the auspicious objectives of this initiative but also to ensure its sustainability," she said.
She expressed optimism that with support and meaningful stakeholder partnership, the pains and effects of numerous and complex challenges of young women and their commitment to the initiative would yield fruits for the benefits of the teeming vulnerable young women.
Gupar dilated on the vision of PAWODI, saying it is an active and result-oriented platform that promotes sustainable young women's development in Africa with a clear mission of promoting sustainable solidarity, synergy, networking, collaboration and partnership, to achieve measurable results in concerted efforts to make life meaningful for the vulnerable poor and less privileged young women.
"It is inline with our strategic mission that we identified Mr. President as a distinguished African leader and father with a passion for the cause that we stand for and to humbly honour him," she stated.
She disclosed that the Board of Trustees and leadership of PAWODI have agreed that the International Secretariat of PAWODI be located in The Gambia as a mark of honour to President Jammeh and the people of The Gambia. She further disclosed that the first lady of the Republic, Her Excellency Madam Zineb Yahya Jammeh, will be one of the members of the Board of Trustees.
Fatou Lamin-Faye, the minister of Basic and Secondary Education, said Gambians are deeply touched by the award, but are not surprised considering the reasons advanced in choosing the president for the award. She hailed the Gambian leader for his women empowerment initiatives, noting that his desire is always to see that no woman is poor or hungry if he has the power.
"When he came to office, the first thing he did was to give scholarship to girls, but later said that was not enough, then he came up with an initiative called the President's Empowerment of Girls' Free Education," she noted.
Minister Faye also told the gathering that there are quite a number of women in Cabinet and others in important positions. "We owe him a lot of praises and we are proud to say that we will jealously support his leadership," she said.
Present at the ceremony were Cabinet ministers, the former speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay; and National Assembly members, among other important personalities.