The Gambia, like the rest of the world, is celebrating International Women’s Day, but do Gambian women have much to celebrate, one may ask?
It is one thing to have a woman vice president and as many women as possible in various sectors of government, but it is certainly not the same thing as women’s empowerment.
For instance, apart from the vice president, there are only three other women in the cabinet of more than 15 ministers. In the other sectors of government such as the legislature, there are only two elected women in the 50-member National Assembly, while the situation is even worse in the local government structure where there is less than one per cent women representation in the municipal councils.
For instance, while President Jammeh has been in power for more than 20 years, it is only recently that we have had the first woman divisional governor, and there has never been a woman district seyfo and not more than two women Alkalos out of more than 2000 villages that the country has.
When we look at almost all domains in this country, we tend to see that the women are still relegated to the very bottom of society, virtually denied all avenues of self-expression.
As regards the political terrain, Gambian women still continue to play the second fiddle, mainly as ‘yai compins’ whose role is to clap and dance and mobilise support for the men folk who continue to jostle for the top political positions. It is indeed a shame that after 50 years of independence, only four women have ever been elected to parliament.
One latest example of the lack of political will to empower the women is the forthcoming by-election in Janjanbureh Constituency in which the only woman applicant was rejected in favour of a man, thus missing an opportunity to help increase women’s representation in parliament.
It is therefore quite obvious that it will take quite a long time, if ever, for the Gambia to meet the UN target of at least 30 per cent women’s representation in parliament.
Re-Gambian women politicians
Your story headlined: Women politicians reveal stories of betrayal, published on Friday 6 March, was a good report. However, no one from the opposition was interviewed. I am sure the women in the opposition have stories to tell as well.
Re-Standard is not for political parties
I read your report in which your new managing director, Lamin Fatty, was quoted as saying that The Standard is not for political parties. Well, Mr Fatty needs to also ensure that news items are not reproduced verbatim. As journalists, they have an obligation to give readers the context, background and possible motives behind statements made by leaders – regardless of their political or religious affiliations. For example, it would have been relevant for your readers to know that Seedy Njie is a nominated (unelected) member of parliament, so that we the readers can see that his loyalty is primarily to the person who nominated him to his current post. I think that is qualitative; otherwise, such narratives in the name of Gambia are not only misleading but very “subjective” and also a misuse of the “public” platform.