14 September 2014
EU chargé d'affairs launches project to fight FGM, empower women
The EU chargé d'affairs, Madam Agnes Gillaud, has raised concern about the continuing practice of female genital mutilation (FGM)in The Gambia and the consequences for victims. Speaking at the ‘Women empowerment for change’ project launching in Kalagi on Friday, she declared: “The project aims to promote women’s rights here in the Foni Jarrol District by empowering vulnerable women and raising awareness about their rights as human beings. It is focused on economic empowerment and reducing violence against women including female genital mutilation/cutting. The EU is committed to gender equality, which is the key for sustainable development. Gender equality has been identified as one of the five essential principles of EU’s cooperation strategies. Equal opportunities and access to resources for both men and women are essential to eradicate poverty and to achieve all MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). Women play a critical role in addressing the main challenges humanity faces today, such as health, education, agriculture and nutritional issues as well as climate change. However, this extremely important role of women is too often underestimated. Crucial issues remain to be effectively addressed, in order not to hamper the efforts to achieve our shared development objectives, including the MDGs. Indeed, domestic violence remains a widespread problem in the country. FGM and other harmful traditional practices are still widely perpetrated, especially in rural areas. Such is also early marriage which can lead to health complications, and sometimes death, not to mention the missing out on education”. She added: “In Africa women constitute 52 % of the total population, but contribute 75% of the agricultural work and produce and market 60 to 80 % of the food. By contrast, over two thirds of the world’s illiterate are women: girls are about 11 % less likely than boys to attend secondary school in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa women earn only 10 % of income and own only 1% of assets. Marginalisation of women is also present in decision making: although women constitute half of the electorate only 12 % percent of parliamentary seats are held by women in Africa, and even less so in The Gambia”.