The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, and First Lady Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow of The Gambia have launched the ‘Gambia Says NO MORE’ campaign to tackle domestic and sexual violence in the West African country.
They made the announcement on 5 January 2024 at a meeting of government officials, high commissioners and other representatives in the capital city of Banjul.
Attendees included Claudia Cole, Gambian Minister for Basic and Secondary Education; Harriet King, the UK’s High Commissioner to The Gambia; and Ndeye Rose Sarr, the United Nations Population Fund’s Representative in The Gambia.
Once operational, the national chapter will promote the safety and well-being of The Gambia’s 2.6 million people and will be part of the global ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ campaign.
It will offer an array of culturally sensitive toolkits and templates to propel ministries, businesses, non-profits, communities and bystanders into further action against domestic and sexual violence while supporting long-term strategies to eradicate abuse.
Speaking at the meeting, Secretary-General Scotland, who has made ending violence against women and girls a key focus of her leadership of the Commonwealth, said:
“One in three women around the world experience domestic or sexual violence at least once in their life. Sadly, this is also a reality in every country. That is why, we remain steadfast in our commitment to addressing this issue.”
She commended First Lady Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow for her leadership of the ‘Gambia Says NO MORE’ chapter, stating:
“Through this chapter, we will bring this hidden pandemic of violence out of the shadows so that victims know they can seek support, bystanders know how to intervene and everyone, especially men and boys, knows how they can be active allies in putting an end to the abuse.”
The Secretary-General urged everyone to take responsibility for making homes places of safety for women and girls, adding: “That is the only way we can achieve peace in our communities, countries and the world.” She also commended the work of the NO MORE Foundation, which has been working in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat to create a world where there is no more domestic and sexual violence.
Similar to the global prevalence rate, in The Gambia, one in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. The abuse remains largely unreported due to impunity, silence, stigma and fear.
In recent years, The Gambia has introduced a range of measures to strengthen the protection of women and girls, including specialist domestic abuse courts and a national gender-based violence helpline.
First Lady Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow said:
“I am glad that we have the opportunity to collaborate with the Commonwealth in aligning our efforts to empower women and girls by initiating the NO MORE campaign to end the violence."
“It is an endeavour that I have been so passionate about and I am pleased to have taken some steps in the right direction, yet the work continues. We look forward to working closely with the Commonwealth in achieving our common vision.”
Going forward, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the NO MORE Foundation will work with the Government of The Gambia to implement the campaign.
- Snober Abbasi Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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