UNESCO-BREDA and CODESRIA in collaboration with the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO organised a two-day workshop to validate two case studies relating to gender issues in the Gambia.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairperson of the National Women's Council, Hon. Fatou Mbye, on her opening statement said, the studies of violence against women and Gender based violence in the Gambia' and women Social Movement in West Africa: Gambian women on the move" are indeed timely and relevant to this year's theme of the united nations commission on the statues of women (UNSCW) to be held in New York. She spoke about the significance the government of the day attached to issues affecting women and girls in the socio-economic development of this country. Hon. Mbye said the women social movement started way back before independence, but despite the challenges encountered in the struggle for women's right, promotion and protection, they have made history by establishing a national women's federation to complement the efforts of the national women's council by providing a wide range of representative platforms for women; adding that the establishment of the federation has enabled women to express themselves and raise their concerns and undertake where possible, activities that would lead to their socio-economic empowerment.
Hon. Mbye further asserted that the case studies on women's social movement in West Africa and 'Gambia women on the move' have provided them with data on the current state of women's progressive movements, identified strengths and weaknesses and also examined the capacity to manage change within society for better socio-economic and sustainable development. The study on 'gender based violence' and 'violence against women in the Gambia' focused on the central River Region and North Bank, clearly indicates the unequal distribution of gender power in patriarchal societies where men have more access to productive resources and more power to decision making, Hon Mbye noted.
However, Madam Mbye said, this indeed perpetuates violence and women are always the underprivileged in such societies. She said the studies has also indicated that men who beat their wives take it as a mechanism to enjoy power and means of control in a patriarchal society, and at the same time social norms of the acceptability of wife beating has been proven to contribute to women's likelihood of being battered. Under the social norm of normalization of violence, high proportions of men are wife beaters. She said according to reports if plans are not put forward, this trend would be passed down to generations by means of social learning and by economic and individual mechanisms.
Meanwhile Madam Mbye revealed that Mics (2010) in the Gambia reveals that about 75% of women feel that their husbands/partners have a right to hit them.