Westminster Foundation for Democracy in partnership with Communities for Democracy has delivered a training on effective communication for 20 female leaders in The Gambia.
The women, aged between 22 and 40s, were drawn from various political backgrounds in the country. They were exposed to tools and strategies to empower their participation and become effective leaders.
The project is aimed at strengthening the participation and increasing the representation of women in power and decision-making structures. The second workshop was held this week with a focus on effective communications.
Jarai Fayinkeh, 26 and UDP political activist from Jangjangbureh, CRR, who works as a teacher seems ready to face the men at the next round of elections in the country.
She said the 2016 election has completely changed the face of politics in this country with a female presidential candidate and other dynamic members in both the National Assembly and the local councils. She sees Ya-Kumba Jaiteh as her role model and wishes to be like her one day.
“This programme helped me understand the trends in politics and political participation of women among others. I will begin by becoming an influencer within the party and training other women who did not have the opportunity to join us here,” she said.
Isatou Njie, Councillor, Banjul City Council and National Coordinator of Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa described the process as a new confidence building method imbued in the participants.
“My intention to contest for the next National Assembly elections has just been made easy with this training. Everything I learned here is new, except for public speaking. I now have a proper knowledge of planning and executing political activities in a comprehensive manner,” she said.
Fatoumatta Camara, 26, activist working with the civil society group, Peace Hub The Gambia, said she had political ambitions to run for office by 2026.
“Low participation of women in politics motivates me to advocate me for that change. Sessions on public speaking and effective communications are necessary to enable me communicate effectively in imparting that change massages,” she said.
Women constitute 58% of all registered Gambian voters. The total percentage of women in Parliament is 10.3 per cent. In Cabinet, only 4 out of the 23 members are women.
Currently, women represent 50.5% of the country’s population. However, very few women hold positions of power within political parties, in the civil service and other relevant decision-making processes. This is what such a training is seeking to address.
Programme coach and National Coordinator of Think Young Women, Musu Bakoto Sawo, who is also a gender lecturer at the University of The Gambia, said she met these ladies from diverse political backgrounds and has no doubt that they are special in their own ways.
“They had the passion and were interested in politics. But for the longer time, women have been sidelined to participate in politics and a lot of them lack the capacity to do so. That has been used as an edge by male counterparts over them,” she said.
Meeting these women since November and facilitating their first workshop and subsequent coaching sessions, Musu Sawo speaks highly of their commitment and dedication to learn more about politics in order to engage meaningfully in politics.
In the beginning, it was a bit challenging for participants to learn and absorb the theories, principles and strategies around leadership. However, the coaching sessions allowed them to put in practice the content covered during the workshop.
“Seeing them in the second round of this workshop convened after two months of practical coaching has been a different vibe altogether,” Musu Saho said. “They were exceptional at practising what they were learning and were ready to work in achieving their political goals.”