By Olimatou Coker
The 58 women candidates who contested in the recent Area Councillors’ election were on Wednesday paraded and introduced as touch bearers of a project to empower women in politics being implemented by the Maa Foundation supported by UNFPA.
The four -year project is geared towards building the capacity of women on leadership and responsibility skills which will enhance their communication techniques, public speaking skills and help them understand the importance of women’s participation in elections. The Wednesday event was a forum on post-election reflection held at Seaview Hotel on the theme celebrating women political leaders.
The UNFPA country rep, Ms Ndeye Rose Sarr congratulated the 17 out of the 58 women who were lucky to be elected and praised the courage of all of them for seeking nomination and contesting. “This is a clear manifestation that it is our time as women in The Gambia to take part in decision-making processes in political spaces,” she said, adding that the role of women in society shouldn’t be defined based on their gender but rather their potentials and what they can bring to the table.
Madam Sarr said whatever the outcome of the elections there are lessons that has been learned for the next level of engagement “in your political careers.”
Fatoumata Jawara-Dukureh, the CEO of Maa Foundation said the celebration of the 58 great women coincided with the 58th anniversary of Gambia’s independence.
“This alone is a manifestation that we can be women of course, naturally gifted and empowered by God,” CEO Jawara- Dukureh said describing this year’s local government elections as a win for all Gambian women.
“We are definitely supported by God and then it comes down to human nature and of course the Gambian population at large,” She said. This is a great achievement compared to the last elections when we had over a hundred candidates and only nine won, whilst this year we have 58 candidates and 17 won.
Mariama Ndong, the youngest candidate of women contestants thanked Maa Foundation and UNFPA for supporting and empowering her during the process, likewise all 58 female candidates appreciated the support for their logistics ,the trainings and appeal for elections not to be held in Ramadan period as it has lots of challenges.
Saikou Sanyang, the permanent secretary at the ministry of gender, women and social welfare commended the enormous efforts and roles played by the Maa foundation and the United Nations Population Fund who have continuously contributed towards the empowerment of women.He assured the women that the ministry will continue to work with Cso’s and development partners for the development of Gambian women as they are together in this project and others.