What Dr Istatou Touray was addressing in a story covered by this paper yesterday, cannot be underestimated. Women need to be represented within the decision-making process and lest we forget they have every democratic right to elect or be elected into a public office, which makes the issue more indispensable and important to address.
The political wheel of any nation that is rooted in democratic principles, rotates on the axis of equal participation of the people regardless of colour, gender or creed. There can be no proper welfare without the contribution of the masses and it is from such conviction that our times demand the empowerment and involvement of women in the political and decision making process of the nation-state.
Development is based first on equity and justice, and without these two, the dream of developing any nation or state ends in naught for development is nothing less than the promotion, protection and preservation of the human fullness and that can’t be actualised without granting to all citizens and people an equal and just measure in the cake of the nation. The Gambia, whose female population outnumbers that of the males, needs to further engage that nascent political will of her womenfolk to strike balance and equilibrium in the developmental process.
But having said that, The Gambia has come a long way in this regard. From a time when women are literally not seen or heard even at the lowest levels of the decision-making ladder to being second in command in the affairs of the nation! From 1994 to date, women in this country have steadily been rising within the corridors of power and are among the most respected voices in that realm.
But we are still at a point where we need to adjust. Comparing our statistics to other nations who have made enviably giant strides in the area of women’s involvement in the governance and political process. With Rwanda’s 56% of parliamentarians been women, we can say there is still much work to be done here. In our bid to reach a full blown democracy, we cannot underestimate the gigantic role of the contribution of women. To not only be consulted but to be a part of the process itself.
To actively participate in the process of governance has been an issue women have always advocated. And truthfully it’s only natural that the only people who can address their own problems are those who are going through it. But living in a society where politics and governance are associated with masculinity and male dominance, this dream of having women address their own issues and problems becomes ever so distant. And in the case of The Gambia, we have still a long way to go in actualising this dream and making it possible, with only four out of forty three National assembly members being female.
But empowerment of women in this regard will only be a dream realised when women take it upon themselves to work on their inclusion in the process. That’s why Dr Touray and her colleagues at Gamcotrap are to be commended for taking a leading role in this regard. But organising conferences and ranting about being left out, will only make little changes. The true change will come about when women set about for example, contesting in large numbers in elections and making their voices heard through the campaign process.
It’s imperative for every conscious and concerned leader of a political party or entity to know that curtailing the rights of women’s participation in politics is unhelpful in the promotion and sustenance of a viable democracy. Women are the most affected by many of the policies that are enacted by the government, so it’s only logical that they are involved in the making of those policies or take part in the political pressure groups that act as a leverage in the determination of those policies.
It’s a myth that women can’t be good leaders. The fiction that women are too emotional and weak to be at the forefront of the political process is one of the greatest hindrances in this regard. So it is upon the women who are educated and duly fit to tackle this head on and strike the much-needed balance in the halls of parliament, the cabinet and any other place of great political significance.]]>