The opposition-UDP bigwig said women in The Gambia have fared far better in 20 years of Jammeh than Jawara’s 30 years.
“You certainly cannot compare the first republic and the second republic in terms of advancing the interest women,” he told The Standard.
“I think more headway has been made under the second republic than under the first republic. There could be several reasons for this, one of which might be that there is an increasing awareness on women issues and Jammeh’s regime capitalised on that.”
The Gambia under Jammeh boasts of having the longest serving female vice president in Africa. There have since 1994 been three female speakers of the National Assembly, compared to none under Jawara.
Yet, Dr Suso argued that it was the outspokenness of women leaders, rather than positive policy influence that contributed to the modest progress.
He added: “During the first republic, awareness of the important role of women in development was not there. Another key factor that might also be responsible is that there are more NGOs working in the area of women’s advancement today than then. And, women leaders of today are more outspoken on their issues than during the first republic.”
Suso argued further that both Jammeh and Jawara are guilty of using women as cheer leaders, instead of facilitating their effective participation in governance.
“The progress that has been made is far from being satisfactory,” he said. “The space has been given for women to occupy certain positions in the government, but I don’t think enough has been done in empowering women to effectively participate in politics and vie for elective positions.”
He explained: “There is a recent case of vacant parliamentary seat in Georgetown. There were two or three women applicants. I was seriously disappointed when I realised that the women were not selected. I wish they could do more, like exposing more women to electoral offices. So, to some extent, both the first and second republics have used women as cheer leaders.”]]>