March 8th marks the International Women’s Day, an occasion that is meant to be a global celebration. But, with more and more women suffering each day, there is little to rejoice especially in Africa. The theme for this year is, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
In The Gambia we often tend to celebrate women who are holding positions in public and private offices, women in leadership, entrepreneurship and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). But we often forget women who are toiling day in and day in under the hot sun to make ends meant for themselves and their families. The year 2020 has been a difficult year for the world, but women who live from hand to mouth were the most affected.
As part of this year’s international Women’s Day, the Chronicle went out and interviewed hard-working women in The Gambia.
Adama Ceesay, a 60 year old woman, said the International Women’s Day should be an everyday celebration because women go through a lot in their entire lives. Mrs. Ceesay sells groundnut, maize and mango along the busy Bertil Harding highway. “I should not be selling at this point in my life, I am getting old but I have to come here every day to provide for my family.”
The 60 year old who lives in Jabang has been selling at this spot for the last 5 years, and sometimes she goes home with only D300 ($5) sometimes she goes home empty handed with no sales
Lena Gibba is married with 3 children between the ages of 13 and 2 years. She said it has not been easy for her young family which is the reason why she resorted to selling groundnut and maize.
“I have been seeking here for close to 6 years now, if I don’t come here every day Sunday’s excluded my family will not have clothes, shelter and there will be no food on the table.”
Some women have never been to school which is their biggest regret. Some didn’t have the opportunity to sit in a classroom or be educated and for such reasons, they don’t want their children to miss available opportunities to better their lives.
Mariama Faal thinks exactly that way. She wants the best education for her three children that is the reason why she wakes up every day at 5am to toil for her three children.
“I have never been to school and because of that I work very hard to make sure that my
three children get the best education they want as far as I’m alive”.
Memunatu Tholley is a refugee from Sierra Leone and has been in The Gambia for over 10 years now. The young mother of one said life has not been easy for her. She says that it is for her ten year old son that she resorted to selling cosmetic products.
“No one is supporting me, my son and I live entirely on this business, from his school fees, uniforms, food and the monthly rent all come from this business.”
Fatoumatta Kanu and Sallay Bah are both Sierra Leonean nationals who sell various stuffs to make ends meet for their children.
Mrs Kanu has two children and all their needs, as well as hers, depend entirely on her business of selling kitchen utensils and toiletries. “Sometimes I make a profit of D500 a day, sometimes I make no sale, I cannot live this business even though it is not profitable but is better than nothing” she said
For Sallay, she is a single mother who sells charcoal to put food on the table. “Before people used to stare at me when they see a beautiful lady like me selling charcoal.”
All these women deserve a resounding BRAVO for struggling to improve their life and the lives of many other people around them, despite the hardship.