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AIDS Anal Afr. 1995 Jun;5(3):9.

Tourism's collapse puts Gambian women at risk.



Despite efforts of the Gambian government, which established a ministry in 1981 that would tackle gender issues, improve women's health, and promote empowerment, women are underrepresented in government and business, and 84% are illiterate. Child mortality is among the highest in Africa; 134 children per 1000 die before their fifth birthday. In the mid-1980s austerity measures adopted by the World Bank and IMF left the ministry without funds. Rice and vegetable production, the main source of income for women, fell in the 1990s. In 1994, paddy production dropped 23% from the previous year; this was due to a lack of technical and financial assistance. The collapse of tourism with Capt. Yahya Jammeh's seizure of power has put prostitutes catering to tourists out of work, but women who have lost jobs in the hotel industry may be pushed into local prostitution to survive. The impact of this on the HIV/AIDS epidemic is unclear. Although Gambia is one of the world's most aid-dependent countries (more than a quarter of the GNP before the coup), corruption and mismanagement in the nongovernmental sector is widespread. The director of the Women in Development Programme, a $15m World Bank project, was forced to resign over allegations of fraud. The political process sidelines women; only village chiefs, who are traditionally men, are allowed to vote when new heads are elected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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