executive director of Women’s Bureau has stated that women are historically and
culturally being disadvantage when it comes to electoral process in West
Fanta Bai Secka, was speaking recently on behalf of the vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs during the opening of a three-day stakeholders forum on the implementation of the ECOWAS Gender and Election Strategic Framework (GEFS) held at a local hotel in Banjul.
“Therefore, they need to be part of the whole process not just as voters, because they contribute more than half of the registered voters. Suffice to say that, it is only when institutions are democratic and representative of all groups in society women as well as men, minorities as well as majorities ‘the disposed as well as the affluent, then peace and national prosperity are likely to be achieved.”
She said in The Gambia, women are an important part of our present political dispensation. However, she observed that there are still barriers to equal participation and representation of men and women.
“The Gambian women can do this without any doubt as we ushered in a change of government with our newly found democracy. To do this, we must change our mind set and believe in ourselves; that together we can support each other, mentor and prepare the young girls for electoral office. Together we can remove the barriers and raise the finances needed, but most importantly we should be equally committed to developing ourselves and be prepared morally and psychologically and be prepared to have the required skills and knowledge for such offices,” she emphasised
She urged the participants to share the knowledge gained during the training with women and girls in their communities with a view to ensuring effective implementation of the strategic framework and for improving perspective in political parties, governance processes structure and systems.
Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, the commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender at ECOWAS Commission in Abuja Nigeria said, to contribute to addressing the challenges of women’s poor representation in West Africa, the Department of Social Affairs and Gender in collaboration with the ECOWAS Elections Unit took the initiative to develop the ECOWAS Gender and Elections Strategic Framework and Action Plan to serve as advocacy document to promote women’s participation and representation in democracy, and their role in the electoral processes.
“Today, we are here as ECOWAS to raise awareness among key national stakeholders in The Gambia about this ECOWAS Gender and Election Strategic Framework and Action Plan, and to dialogue with you on how you can use it as a resource tool to engender and garner support of all other stakeholders including development partners towards increased women’s participation as candidates, electorates, polling staff, civic educators and election observers in your electoral processes.”