‘Male involvement crucial in ending GBV’
By Cherno Omar Bobb
Naomi Williams, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, has said that male involvement is crucial in ending all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in our society.
DPS Williams made the remarks at the opening of the first-ever national all men conference on positive masculinity organised by Men for Equality and supported by UNFPA, UNICEF and Actionaid.
The theme for the 2-day convergence was: ‘Leveraging the influence of men for the promotion of positive masculinity in The Gambia’.
The gathering, held at Paradise Suites Hotel, brought together men from diverse backgrounds and walks of life across the country to discuss ways to strengthen and promote positive masculinity at all levels of society.
At the end of the conference, 35 gender champions were identified and tasked to train about 500 people in their respective areas.
Madam Williams added that leveraging the influence of men as a means of promoting positive masculinity in The Gambia makes men and boys potential partners in promoting gender equality and women empowerment.
She also said that it is important for men to stand in solidarity with women to create bold, visible and united forces for gender equality.
According to her, Gender Based Violence in all forms continues to affect the lives and wellbeing of individuals especially women and girls.
She therefore called on men to commit to have respect for women that includes refraining from any form of violence against women.
“I call on all men and boys to refuse to be bystanders, to challenge stereotypes, reject impunity and become change agents in order to contribute towards eradicating gender based violence in The Gambia,” she appealed.
Rose Sarr, UNFPA Country Representative, said in The Gambia, one in every four women has experienced sexual or physical violence at some point in her life.
She pointed out that the culture of violence meted on women in The Gambia continues to be worsening by the day, giving an example of the Jalangbang incident.
“Men that were meant to be the last line for defence for the women are the ones perpetuating the acts on them,” she also said, noting that to end all forms of Gender Based Violence, they need to build partnership with men and boys and have them as agents of change.
“Women in The Gambia are still not safe despite the work done by government and development partners. It is time for us to put an end to violence against women and girls to allow them to meet their full potential in a conducive environment free from discrimination and abuse,” Madam Sarr further said.
Modou Lamin Davies, National Coordinator for Men for Equality, said the day marks a new beginning in men’s involvement in the fight against sexual and gender based violence and the promotion of positive masculinity.
Arman Dahore, UNICEF Deputy Country Representative, said men can foster a safe environment for children at home, at school and within the community. “We can be champions of a society without violence against women and children,” he added while calling for the need to create a safe listening space for women.
Bakary Y. Badjie, the minister for Youth and Sports, said there exists a lot of GBV in The Gambia with majority perpetuated by men against women.
“Gender Based Violence has no space in our society,” he warned, noting that the government will continue to provide the policies and laws to reduce incidences of GBV.