Maa Foundation regional sensitization tour wraps up
By Cherno Omar Bobb
Maa Foundation for Women’s community sensitization tour held across all regions in the country has wrapped up.
The regional consultation for women political participation and peace building organised by Maa Foundation for Women was funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The tour focused on supporting and campaigning for all nominated women candidates for the forthcoming councillor elections irrespective of their political affiliations. Consultations were held in all regions across the country.
Binta Jammeh-Sidibeh, women leader and former Executive Director of Women’s Bureau, in her remarks at the opening of the tour held in Kanifing, said: “We are at a milestone of our political period. Councilor elections are very important because they [the councillors] live with us in our wards.”
She asked the women why would they vote men into office and not themselves yet they constitute 58% of registered voters. It was time they took up positions at all levels, she said.
“We are used as tools by men to fight each other. It is time we started clapping and dancing for ourselves and not men,” she emphasised, saying: “Wherever a woman is contesting we should vote for her regardless of her political affiliation. Let us not allow politics or politicians to divide us.”
There is no political party in the country led by a woman, she pointed out, saying that women are the foundation and building block of peace and should therefore be represented in politics. She added that there cannot be peace and development without women.
Awa Bah, Desk Officer, Inter Party Committee Women Branch, said women form the majority of the voter population and could achieve whatever they wanted provided they were united and supporting each other.
According to her, they “are not respected” and their “efforts are often downgraded”. She therefore calls on her fellow women to empower each other and not pull each other down.
“Politicians run after women whenever they need positions but turn their backs on them whenever they get what they want,” she said.
She urged women to know their value. She also advised women councillors who will be elected to remember and embrace their fellow women.
Fatoumatta Jawara-Dukureh, the Chief Executive Officer of Maa Foundation for Women, said women are ready and committed to change by voting for their fellow women during the forthcoming Local Government Elections. She describes women as the engine of growth and development, saying there cannot be meaningful development without peace.
Amie-Njie-Jatta, a former lady councillor, said women can achieve whatever they want but lack self confidence. “This is holding them back,” she said, adding “Another weakness for women is they fear defeat.”
Siaka Marong, representing the Ministry of Gender, Children and Women Affairs, said women’s political participation influences policy and decision-making. He added that Gambian women have always been strong stakeholders in country’s democracy.
Mr Marong said The Gambia has nearly two thousand communities but only 11 are headed by female with no female chief across the country. He also called for the inclusion of Persons With Disabilities in leadership positions and decision-making.
Ndeye Rose Sarr, UNFPA’s Country Representative in The Gambia, speaking at the opening of a two-day capacity-building training of aspiring female candidates for the upcoming local government elections, also organised by Maa Foundation for Women and held at Bakadaji, said women political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy.
Their political participation facilitates women’s direct engagement in public decision-making, she added, saying that women’s political leadership begins with increasing the number of women in key decision-making positions.