Rohey Malick Lowe, the mayoress of Banjul City Council (BCC), said Rafela International Gambia Chapter is in the country with the objectives of supporting and empowering Gambian women, saying that the platform will address some of the most pressing issues women in the country encounter.
"Let me make it very clear to all of you that Rafela Gambia chapter has nothing to do with politics and it's a non-political platform. However, we will support and encourage women who want to venture in to politics and those that are in the business sector. Our desires are to ensure that issues affecting Gambian women become the thing of past," she said.
The BCC mayoress who also doubles as the President of Rafela International Gambian Chapter was speaking over the weekend in Brikama during a convergence organised by the platform and attended by thousands of women within the West Coast Region.
The platform, she added, is here to complement the efforts of Gambian women by supporting their socio-economic activities and in ensuring that "no child is found on the streets. "The forum will avail us the opportunity to know some of the constraints that women in WCR and the country at large are facing so that it could be addressed. As women, we also need to unite, really behind each other, celebrate each other and support each other in times of difficulties among others," she stressed, while commending UNDP for the support.
"In most of the gatherings and forums women are always clapping and dancing. However, the trends must and it must change now. We need to stand firmly and challenge our men with a view to take up leadership position. Don't be afraid of the stereotypes or cyber-bullying or any forms of tactics meant to stop you from contesting. The time is up for us to take the mantle of leadership in the country, she added, nothing that such kind of forum will go a long way towards empowering women to take leadership position in the country.
"I have seen what Rafela does in other beneficiary countries; hence that's why I made sure that we also get the chapter in the country because Rafela is the solution to the problem affecting Gambian women. I want you to inform your respective party executive members that as women, you also need to be part of your respective parties executives."
Most of Gambian women, she further added, are into vegetable gardening, claiming that they are facing so many challenges in terms of storage facilities and marketing. She made it clear that the monies that the platforms secure are entirely funded by the EU.
"We want to support and empower women in the country so that they can enter into the political arena. We want to have women representatives so that they can represent us and push on policies that are geared towards empowering Gambian women."
Sukai Sanyang, executive member of Rafela called on Gambian women to join the platform, claiming that there are lots of opportunities in Rafela that women can get. She added that it was because of Rafela that she was able to go to Japan.
"We want to make sure that women also participate in decision making process in the country."
Hon. Lamin Sanneh of Brikama North, dwelled on the importance of the forum, saying it is about national development and also bridging the gap between men and women. He challenged women of the country to enroll their children in schools.
Musukebba Jarju and Hon. Ndey Njie both urged Gambian women to join the platform in order to grab the opportunities that Rafela offers.