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Speaker, Touma Njai call for greater women representation in parliament

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By Alagie Manneh

Banjul South NAM Touma Njai has said The Gambia must enlarge its parliament to accommodate more seats for women.

Honourable Njai was speaking in her capacity as chair of the Gender and Children’s Welfare Committee of the National Assembly at recent forum. The two-day event, designed to hone capacity of female parliamentarians, was organised by the International Republican Institute (IRI).

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She disclosed that such an expansion will demonstrate The Gambia’s resolve towards the advancement of women in political participation and decision-making processes.

“The first step to achieving this is to join the advocacy for the speedy reintroduction of the failed constitutional amendment to enlarge the Parliament to accommodate more seats for women. This must start at this very moment, honourable members,” Njai told the gathering which included NAMs.

She added: “As chair of the gender and children’s welfare committee, I and my colleagues will make it a priority for the committee to come up with a committee bill to this effect, with the support of the leadership of the Parliament, under the right Honourable Speaker.”

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 If left unchecked, Mrs Njai argued, women under-representation would continue to be “the greatest threat, [and] the greatest obstacle to our democracy.

Our coming together as current and former NAMs should re-energise our motivation to push harder for a Gambia that increase the opportunity for women’s political participation and decision making,” she said.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said it is the structural, economic, and institutional challenges that are barricading women’s advancement and participation in politics. “Due to the gender stereotyping, it is usually difficult for women to choose to enter politics, [and] run for office…” he said.

Speaker Jatta called for the convergence to “engender resolutions and recommendation which all concern stakeholders would follow up to ensure that we create a real difference regarding women’s political participation not only for the forthcoming local government elections but in the overall governance and democratisation process of the country”.

The convergence brought together, mainly female members of the 5th and 6th legislators, tasked with building and strengthening a network of leaders to advocate for greater women participation in politics and in decision-making processes.

The two-day event was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre, with support from the US Embassy in Banjul. Former deputy speaker Fatou Mbye, and Mr Jimmy Sankaituah, the resident director of the IRI, both gave brief speeches. 

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