Apr 30, 2012, 2:23 PM
Over 30 female contestants and leaders across all political parties recently participated in a consultation meeting to review the gender concerns in the last local government area council election, at Pakalinding Lodge, Lower River Region. The meeting validated the reports on the pre-election activities with potential female contestants and reviewed the participation of women in the 2008 Local Government elections.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP Dr. Isatou Touray, emphasised that the project on women's political participation is supported by the Open Society Initiative of West Africa - OSIWA. She said it is not about partisan politics but rather to create political awareness amongst women to empower them within their own parties. Dr. Touray called for unity of purpose, solidarity and trustworthiness in women's struggles; and pointed out that, as women there are commonalities, specificities and difference but they should all work for the interests of all women no matter what their partisan inclination is.
Speaking to the participants, the first Gambian female elected Parliamentarian and also Consultant for women and political participation, Honourable Nyimasata Sanneh, informed the participants that GAMCOTRAP is interested in creating awareness on women's rights and empowerment and they choose the rights target for their activities. She emphasised that it is critical to engage women in decision-making positions in promoting women's rights in politics. GAMCOTRAP was commended for the initiative to engage women leaders from different parties across the country to revisit the interest of women in the political processes.
However, the participants highlighted some of the challenges female contestants were faced with amongst which were the concern that women leaders are used for election of political representatives and not for the strategic interest of women; challenges in their parties select committees attitudes towards some of the female candidates, sexual harassment during the campaign period, lack of funding for female candidates to campaign and reluctance of elite women to contest for elections, among other things.
The participants recommended a sensitisation on the Local Government Act and the role of area councilors, to train women on leadership and other skills to enhance their knowledge on policies and laws affecting them, to sensitise young girls on reproductive health and rights.
They finally called for a national forum across parties to discuss the gender concerns in vying for elections for the interests of all women and promote solidarity and positive campaign strategies within and across parties, whilst emphasising the need for women to be recognised in their own right as citizens and to work in solidarity.