Nigeria and The Gambia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote trade, investment and best practice among women, the aged and people living with disabilities from both countries.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina and Vice-President of The Gambia, Isatou Njie-Saidy, signed the document on behalf of their countries on Wednesday in New York.
The MoU was signed on the sidelines of the UN Commission on Status of Women, tagged Beijing +20, which was 20 years after the Beijing Women Conference of 1995 took place in the Chinese capital.
The Understanding seeks to empower women, children, the disabled and the elderly in both countries, as well as promote increased trade among women in the two countries.
The Gambia vice president, who is also the country’s Minister of Women Affairs, expressed satisfaction that the efforts of both countries had come to fruition and promised to begin action in her country on the terms of the agreement.
She said “we went through a lot of reviews, discussions, changes here and there but thank God today we have signed the MoU. It is a good move; it will strengthen ties between Nigeria and The Gambia, although we always had good relationship.
“We want to ensure the welfare of women in The Gambia and their counterparts in Nigeria, as well as the most vulnerable, and children.”
She said there were many Nigerian women doing business in The Gambia, especially those from Yoruba and Hausa tribes and that some of them had been in that country for generations.
“Indeed the people of Africa have been moving and trading among themselves even without government involvement; but we now want government to be involved so that it will improve interactions.
“We’re looking at social issues, education, health, violence against women, and the economic empowerment of women, as well as women in business.
“In Gambia, more than half of the farmers are women, especially those in rice cultivation, but they’re going into all other areas and we can learn from each other, when it comes to women, children, the elderly and disabled, we can share lessons.”
“I thank the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the cooperation that we have shared. We’ve always seen Nigeria as big brother and I can assure you that following this agreement today, we will work head-on on the programmes.”
“We have challenges of trade, especially at the borders but there is no country that doesn’t have challenges even in the developed world.”
Responding, Maina commended President Goodluck Jonathan for giving women voice in his government.
“I want to thank my President, Goodluck Jonathan, who is gender-friendly and made the signing of this MoU possible to help women, the aged, people with disabilities and the government and people of The Gambia, led by President Yahya Jameh.
“This MoU has taken a long time; we’ve met two or three times on the issue. Both countries have come a long way and the accord will further enhance our friendship and strengthen our relationship.
“President Jameh of The Gambia made a powerful and supportive statement during Nigeria’s centenary celebration last year and we look up to you too, big or small a brother is a brother.
“We wanted a bilateral relationship where our women will exchange best practices, have bilateral trades, and this MoU will help us in that regard.
“This is an opportunity God has given us to help our women and may God bless the two countries, and the region with everlasting peace.”