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Thursday, October 21, 2021

5 takeaways – The debate on women, youth and children from a party policy vantage point

1. No longer cheerleaders

Gambian politics has long been synonymous with some formidable female names – Nyimasata Sanneh Bojang of the bygone era, FJC under the 2nd republic and now Ya-Kumba Jaiteh – but for far too long, our mothers and sisters largely played the Yai Compin role and hosting campaign entourages bellowing the ‘mbaali komaa dorong’ tune. Wednesday’s debate by a quartet of brave women from different parties adds a whole new dimension to our way of politics as they provided insights to a plethora of issues bordering on women, youth and children.

2. The message-audience issue

The Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan famously coined the frame: ‘The Medium is The Message ‘to underline how one’s communication medium determines message crafting. And while the debate organizers deserve credit for the whole initiative, it can be argued the all-women affair would have been more impactful had they not treated local languages as an appendage by way of reserving them for the concluding remarks. English will continue to dominate discourses of this nature but the issues on show such as female genital cutting, women’s access to resources, violence against would have resonated more with my mom in Jokaland than his son following things from his cocoon in the former Constantinople.

3. NPP, where were you?

For a party helmed by the president, it would have sent a promising message to have one of yours too on the stage talking about your programs and policies for Gambian girls and women. And with all the moans and groans about maternal mortality in Banjul under Barrow, a no-show from the president’s camp will do little to inspire confidence. In fact, the moderator Harona Drammeh, had to do some explanation as regards the non-appearance of NPP. As I noted the last time, this is just a pre-season, the big boys themselves will be here and Barrow’s ‘where were you?’ could come handy against absentees.

4. Lack of clarity regarding persons with disabilities

The four women all added massive strings to their bows and must have done their parties proud. However, as they highlighted the most pressing issues affecting women and girls, disability rights issues, particularly those confronting children didn’t come out clearly as per their party positions. It would have even been better if it was treated as separate matter during the debate. The issue itself remains a general problem in the Gambia as the persons with disabilities rights bill is no getting the attention it deserves despite its enactment into law.

5. Paternity leave – men won’t get any if one party assumes office

As it stands, 10 days is all what Gambian men have to attend to their wives when they put to bed. But given that some men have three as wives, GMC’s Tida Kijera argued that it may lead to a wastage of working hours should they be granted a paternity hiatus. Imagine 30 days for a man whose three wives deliver same year? Highly unlikely though but slashing the six-month won’t appeal to many. That may require a second thought. Dimbaayaa mang diyaa!

Its a wrap!

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