At least 71 percent of respondents in an Afrobarometer survey say the government should do more to promote equal rights and opportunities for women.
In pursuit of gender equality, The Gambia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, including the Maputo Protocol and adopted the UNs 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, whose Goal No. 5 is to “achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.”
At the national level, tools in the quest for gender parity and equal opportunity include the Women’s Act of 2010 and the Gender and Women’s Empowerment Policy 2010-2020, which the government has said is being updated.
Despite these measures, gender equality remains an aspiration in The Gambia, where women’s disadvantage in many sectors places the country 121st out of 146 countries, or in the bottom, 20%, on the Global Gender Gap Index. One striking disparity is the underrepresentation of women in politics: Only 8.6% of seats in Parliament are held by women, one of the smallest proportions in the world.
According to the survey, the majority of Gambians say women should have the same rights as men to own and inherit land (67%) and to get paid jobs (59%). “Men are less likely than women to support gender equality in hiring and land rights. About two-thirds (65%) of citizens say women in fact enjoy equal rights when it comes to jobs, but only half (50%) say the same about land ownership. About three-quarters (74%) of Gambians say women should have the same chance as men of being elected to public office,” the report added.
However, while more than three-quarters (78%) think a woman’s family will gain standing in the community if she runs for office, 60% consider it likely that she will be criticised or harassed by others in the community, and 40% think she will probably face problems with her family.
In The Gambia, the report added, women trail men in educational attainment, asset ownership, and financial autonomy.
“A majority of citizens endorse gender equality in hiring, land ownership, and politics, although many consider it likely that women who run for public office will face negative reactions from their communities and families. A majority of Gambians say the government needs to do more to promote equal rights and opportunities for women,” it added.
The report disclosed that Gambian women are less likely than men to have secondary or post-secondary education (40% vs. 49%) and more likely than men to have no formal schooling (48% vs. 43%).
“Women trail men significantly in ownership of key assets, including a mobile phone (85% vs. 95%), a bank account (24% vs. 43%), a motor vehicle (7% vs. 33%), and a computer (10% vs. 22%). Similarly, women are less likely than men to say they make household financial decisions (44% vs. 61%),” the report stated.
The report is based on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021–2023) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions of gender equality in control over assets, hiring, land ownership, and political leadership.