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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

On Kamala Harris and the new breed of women leaders

Over the weekend, Kamala Harris made history for becoming the first woman vice president of the United States of America. There have been 48 vice presidents of the United States since the office came into existence in 1789. A remarkable achievement as far as US politics is concerned. Aside from smashing the proverbial glass ceiling, Kamala inspires hope and aspiration for women around the world, especially young women, that the invisible barriers are meant to be crushed. But in that aspect, in that regard of women’s empowerment and breaking glass ceilings, America is actually down the pecking order because around the world, women are presidents, prime ministers, vice presidents, and holding senior positions in governments. And they are not just holding the positions, they are thriving.

From Iceland to Taiwan and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage a messy patch for our human family. No one was and is still not surprised that these women leaders have handled the coronavirus pandemic with finesse and maturity than their male counterparts.

Back in The Gambia, women’s participation in politics leaves much to be desired. For decades, women in Gambian politics have been mere clappers and singers. They are not given opportunities to strive for political rights and power in the government and sometimes even in other institutions due to cultural beliefs and sometimes traditions. This is something that needs to be challenged; the active participation of women will surely eradicate gender gaps in political positions and create a fair room for equal opportunity for all in the country.

Never before has women’s participation in Gambian politics been so noticeable than now, but in the face of these impressive women voices in national development efforts, more diversity is needed.

The Gambia have three successive women vice presidents; Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, and the current one, Dr Isatou Touray. But is having women as vice presidents empowering them or actually limiting their roles to being just vice? Even though the number of women interested in politics now is way more encouraging but the issue remains that society discriminates and bullies women who have the drive to rub shoulders with men in the political fray.

Marie Sock declared her candidacy a while ago. She got bullied, stereotyped and her personality questioned. Ironically, the same people who are celebrating Kamala today for becoming the first woman vice president in the US are probably the same people who would do anything to discourage Marie or any other woman having the same or even bigger dreams than Kamala. Now this has to STOP. We need to encourage and bring more women in politics because those we bully today might actually have in their heads the solution to our perennial problems as a nation.

The Gambia has lots of Kalamas. The Gambia has lots of Jacindas. The Gambia has lots of Merkels but the only way we are going to notice their efforts, competence and love for their country is by supporting and giving them chance. It is time. If women are struggling to break the glass ceiling on their own, we break it for them. The world is woman.

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