President Barrow with members of Gambia Women’s Federation

(JollofNews) – President Adama Barrow of the Gambia has hailed the important role played by women in the fight against injustice and the restoration of true democracy and the rule of law in the small West African nation.

Mr Barrow said although his predecessor, President Yahya Jammeh, built a strong personality cult and was perceived to be a very powerful man, he was easily flushed out of power thanks to the unity of the people and the strong actions of women in the country.

In recognizing the critical role of women in governance and society, the Gambian leader acknowledged the importance of gender representation and significant role played by gender activists in fighting for justice as well as defending the will of the Gambian people during the transition.

Speaking at a meeting with members of the Gambia Women’s Federation, Mr Barrow said his government is currently working on measures to boost the bad economy it inherited as well as usher in reforms that will provide a level field for all to participate, including women.

The president made a personal donation of D100,000 to the personal of the former executive director of the Women’s Bureau, Ida Fye-Hydara and promised to  review her current situation.

He urged women to help build confidence as well as continue to strived harder.  He reassured them of his government’s commitment to bring down the price of essential basic commodities and to improve the standard of living of Gambians.

Mr Barrow added that despite the enormous challenges facing his regime, the Gambia has changed for good as no development can take place without democracy.

The Gambian leader pledged that the government will reviewed situation of the former Executive Director of the Women’s Bureau Ida Fye-Hydara.   He made a personal donation of D100,000 for Mrs. Fye-Hydara’s personal wellbeing.

In her introduction, Binta Jammeh –Sidibeh, executive director of the Women’s Bureau, congratulated President Barrow for his election as well as the nomination on women in his cabinet and in the National Assembly.  She asserted that women played a critical role in the elections and appreciated the support President Barrow accorded them.

The president of the Gambia Women’s Federation, Fatoumata Jah, said they have 5000 members countrywide.  She elaborated on the projects they have embarked upon such the building of a women’s market worth D8 million with a capacity of 600 shops.

She highlighted some of the challenges they faced to complete the construction of the market as planned. She added that so far, a third of the shops have been completed and allocated while the remaining two-thirds is affected by price inflation and the exchange rate of the Dollar.

The Women’s Federation president asserted that the companies they initiated have been affected by poor groundnut harvest, lack of cold storage facility for food products, lack of fencing, electricity and water supply as well as  lack transportation to reach out to its rural members.

Despite the challenges, Ms Jah said the Federation member organizations are creating employment and taking up their social responsibility to plough back to society.

She revealed that they have already launched initiatives which included a groundnut oil processing company, food and merchandise companies importing goods to the Gambia.

She added the Federation has also been supporting members through revolving fund from the contributions of its members and is planning to open regional markets in the rural areas.

One of the members of the Federation, Ndey Awa Khan, informed the meeting that the Gambia Women’s Federation is non-partisan and only groups can be members.

She said the purpose is to ensure that proper support is provided to empower women’s economic activities and promote light industries that will add value to local products.

Ms Khan further appealed for the Gambia to negotiate with the United States government to bring back AGOA for them to reach out to the American market.  She also appealed to Gambians to promote local designers by patronizing them.

The West Coast Region Coordinator of the Federation, Binta Sabally  and Aji  Mariama Secka alias Aunty Yam Secka both paid tribute to the former executive Director of the Women’s Bureau Ida Fye-Hydara, for her hard work and the initiatives she took to bring the best interest of Gambian women to the fore.  Aunty Yam further appealed for her consideration to be given to her plight.

The Gambia Women’s Federation was formed in 2006 to facilitate support and promote the economic empowerment of women.

The initiative was spearheaded by the former Executive Director of the Women’s Bureau, Mrs. Ida Fye–Hydara.  And since its establishment, the Federation members are both urban and rural women engaged in fashion design, vegetable production and marketing, fisheries, professional groups such as the Private Secretaries Association amongst other Small and Medium Women Entrepreneurs.