By Talib Hydara
As part of its 2018 Local Government Elections civic education campaign, Beakanyang, a local rights-based NGO recently held regional sensitization workshops in upper and central river regions of the country.
The workshops were held in Basse and Janjanbureh on the 5th and 6th of April 2018 respectively, organized in partnership with International Republican Institute with funding from the US Embassy.
Nfamara Jawneh, executive director of Beakanyang said the objective of the sensitization was to promote more women political participation in the forthcoming local government elections
The trainings, he said, also seek to build the capacity of women in order for them to make informed choices during elections and to increase public awareness on the contribution of women in politics.
According to Jawneh, the campaign also seeks to encourage more female candidates to contest in the forthcoming local government elections either as councilors, chairpersons or mayoresses.
He lamented that women constitute majority of the Gambian electorate but yet they only occupy very few elective offices.
Aja Jonfolo Jabby, the lady Councilor of Basse, thanked Beakanyang and partners for enlightening women about their role in the country’s democratization process. She called for more support and solidarity among women themselves.
She added that the training in Basse was timely and relevant to the empowerment of women in the region.
She lamented low level of education, lack of resources and solidarity among women as some of the major factors hindering women’s effective political participation.
“As women we must support each other to promote our agenda especially at council and even National Assembly level,” she appealed.
URR deputy governor Omar Sey in declaring the workshop open, urged women to send their daughters to school and allow them to complete their education for them to contest for future elections.
“Let’s start with Ward Committees and make sure you are well represented and even the village development committees,” he said.
He urged women not to always be singing and clapping for men during elections but instead contest for such positions themselves.
Mr Fanding Barrow, a board member of Beakanyang reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment in promoting women empowerment in the country. He stressed that they want to see women are more empowered and confident to participate in the local elections since they cannot be intimidated; women become agents for change to counter the misconceptions.
“We also want to ensure that women have an increased understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the elected officials. We at the same time want women to be inspired to participate in political processes especially in the local government elections while having a better understanding of the election cycle and the election process,” he noted.
Meanwhile in Janjanbureh, Mr Ansumana Keita, deputy CRR Governor stressed that there cannot be any sustainable development without active women participation.
He urged participants to share the knowledge acquired from the workshop with their communities and parties.
Lady Councilor of Janjanbureh, Mrs Kumba Dansira called for more sensitization forums to encourage women to actively participate in politics.
She hailed the organizers for reaching out to rural women for such a timely and important engagement.
Meanwhile over hundred women were sensitized at the two workshops representing all registered political parties in the country.