Gamcotrap director laments hurdles to women’s participation in politics


Speaking at a three day training forum for the promotion of women’s participation in the political process held at the Banjul City Council, she said: “Gamcotrap continues to engage in a series of training programmes geared towards raising awareness on the effective participation of women in governance and leadership positions. This project is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy in its bid of supporting democracy around the world. The project started in March 2014 targeting 150 women leaders, 50 representatives from the various political parties; 50 media personnel who were drawn from both the print and electronic media which includes community radios in the Greater Banjul Area. Today, the project focuses on 300 youths drawn from the Greater Banjul Area. The purpose of this series of debates is to raise the awareness of the population to advocate for the effective participation of women in the political process. In The Gambia, efforts have been made to respond to the calls made at a conference held in Banjul in 2008 and the first support which was provided by Open Society Initiative for West Africa ( Osiwa) resulted in positive gains for Gambian women in politics. I am glad to note that out of 20 aspirants for elective positions as councilors, we registered 15 who won such positions indicating that women are ready to engage in vying for political and elective positions. 

“However, the field was not level and the political terrain was challenging for those women who were trying to break the glass ceiling. Challenges raised include fear of the myths surrounding women and politics, insults, men as leaders and not women, death threats and voodooism. It was also observed that the selections by the party select committees did not go well since male involvement had dominated the process with few women whose perspectives were mainly the perspectives of men. Several attempts have been made to select the right women, but such efforts proved futile especially affecting rural women.  A general call was made for the women to stand together in the next elections to come united with one vision under their different parties and stand to be heard. There is an issue of fear on the side of men in terms of the power dynamics related to politics.  Therefore men gang up against women and label some of them as uneducated and cannot be in such political positions.”

For her part, Amie Sillah, the deputy mayor of Banjul on behalf of the lord mayor said: “The training is organised as part of an ongoing campaign to sensitise the public and all relevant stakeholders about the need for women’s participation in politics and their role in decision making. The participation of women in governance and leadership positions is a prerequisite to the kind of emancipation we envisage. Here in The Gambia, we are proud and encouraged by the strides being made in this regard by our government and we are hopeful that meetings such as this one will add impetus to the process of more empowerment for Gambian women.”