Gambia: Statute of the OIC Women Development Organisation Ratified

Deputies at the National Assembly Thursday unanimously ratified the Statute of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Women Development Organisation during an Extra-Ordinary Session at the National Assembly Chambers in Banjul.

The Statute has been developed to create in the OIC, a specialised organisation called the 'Women Development Organisation' in member states of the OIC. It will be responsible for the development and promotion of the role of women in the OIC member states, through capacity, skills and competence building through various mechanisms, including training, education and rehabilitation.

Laying the motion before lawmakers, Bala Garba Jahumpa, the minister of Health and Social Welfare and also minister responsible for National Assembly Matters, on behalf of the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs said the Extra-Ordinary Islamic Summit Conference held in Makka al Mukarrama in Saudi Arabia and the 1st and 2nd Conference of the Role of Women in the Development of OIC Member States held in Istanbul and Cairo and the 36th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Damascus, all agreed on the establishment of a specialised organisation specifically to develop women through capacity building and encourage their effective participation in the society.

He explained that the main aim of the Organisation among others is to highlight the role of Islam in preserving the rights of Muslim women especially at the international fora in which the organisation is involved. "It also seeks to develop plans, programmes and projects necessary to implement policies, orientations and decisions of the OIC in the area of women's development; support and encourage national efforts in member states to develop human resources in the area of women's development," he added.

The Health minister also informed the Assembly that the Organisation will activate the rights of women as stated in the OIC Charter by working to removerestrictions to ensure the full participation of women in community building. He said it will also establish an information network that will enable member states to identify experience and practices regarding women, through cooperation with civil society.

He further remarked: "The ratification of this Statute shall permit The Gambia to be a member of the Organisation and hence has a say in the running of the organisation. It would also allow Gambians, Gambian women in particular, to benefit from programmes and projects to be implemented by the organisation to enhance the socio-economic development and the promotion of the role of women in OIC Member States. The ratification of this Statute will further enable The Gambia to qualify in its bid to host the 2017 OIC Summit."

Seconding the motion, Honourable Fatou Mbye, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, described the motion asvery important, noting that The Gambia is a member of the OIC and that 95% of the country's population is Muslim. She described the motion as a 'non-controversial' one, adding that Islam holds women in high esteem, as there is no Islamic law that discriminates against women.

Honorable Mbye opined that the creation of the organisation is very important and relevant for Gambian women, saying the country has registered tremendous progress in women empowerment.

Hon. Sainey Mbye, NAM for Upper Saloum, said the welfare of women should be everyone's concern. He described the motion as a very important and timely one that seeks to empower the women of Islam. "The Gambian leader is one of the key people championing the issue of women empowerment," he stressed. He further stated that going by the aims of the Statute, the Organisation will greatly help in protecting and empowering women.

Hon. Haddy Nyang-Jagne, NAM for Jeshwang, averred that the Statute is inline with the tenets of the government and President Jammeh's proactive measure for women development. She also told the Assembly that Gambian women are indebted to the leadership. According to her, women have been and continue to be key participants in the development of Islam. "This Statute will help to build the capacity of women. This is a non-controversial motion and I urge my colleagues to ratify it," she added.

Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, NAM for Serrekunda East and Majority leader of the National Assembly, said the Organisation will help to enlighten the people about the tenets and principles of Islam. He noted that there are already policies and legal frameworks that seek to develop women issues. He also said that The Gambia is second to none in recognising the critical role of women in society. He finally thanked the government for tabling such an important motion.

Others who contributed included Hon. Netty Baldeh, NAM for Tumana; and Hon. Habsana Jallow, NAM for Nianija. They both welcomed the motion, describing it as non-controversial.

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