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SHE SHE SHE: 2016 Election: Women should graduate from clapping beings to political beings

Jan 14, 2016, 9:59 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

2016 is, no doubt, going to be a very interesting and busy year for every Gambian in the country, as there would be a Presidential Election.

The years 2017 and 2018 would also witness the National Assembly as well as Local Government elections.

Since The Gambia as a nation gained its independence in 1965 to date elections come and go, but there was never a time when we as a nation heard of a woman being at the forefront of a particular political party to the extent of contesting the election as a presidential candidate.

Looking at The Gambia as a nation that cares for women and girls, and as well has empowered them in various areas of development, including enacting laws that protect their rights; it is interesting to note that there is no political party that talks about the idea of a woman or women contesting for the highest position in the country, as compared to other countries in the world.

There is no political party in The Gambia that can move forward or promote its agenda without the participation and support of women.

But it may also interest you to know that these parties only use these women to either be around the kitchen cooking for the men or be by their side singing, clapping, dancing and cheering for them.

Who said a man is born to be a president and a woman to be clapping and cheering being?

It is nowhere written on the forehead of men that they are bound to be always the leaders of a nation!

The question now is: When will The Gambia have a woman contesting for presidential election? When will at least a third of the parliament seats be occupied by women?

When will women stop being clapping beings to politically-minded beings!

When you approach some of the women who are brave enough to damn all the consequences, including stigma, discrimination and stereotype and took part in previous elections as parliamentary candidates, they will tell you that they did not have funds to run their campaign.

It is, indeed, very sad to know that if a woman should make her intention known to her party that she wants to stand for a position, she will be given little or no funding to run her campaign.

But if a man should also apply for the same thing, he will be given enough funds to run his campaign.

When will we put an end to gender stereotyping in our political bureaus? How can a parliament dominated by men discuss the issue of a woman whose husband denies her access to contraceptives?

It is only a woman who can feel the same way as her fellow woman in need. A parliament dominated by men will not subdue men to allow their wives practice birth-spacing.

It is natural for men to be bias when they are in decision-making positions, because men are always on the lookout for what favours them; but it is only a woman that can be balanced in her decisions, and that is why it is very important for women to take part in the 2016 elections.

It is not that women don’t want to take part or that they are scared, but because they are stigmatized on baseless grounds by their men counterparts and also their fellow women, who are used by men to humiliate and discredit them.

A man can have a bad attitude and become unbearable in the society. He can make lots of girls pregnant even when he is married. He can molest children right under the nose of members of the community and then apply for a public position; and none of these things that he does will come to the limelight.

For a woman, the moment she makes her intentions known to the society that she wants to contest for any public position, that will be the time men and women will dig deep into her past.

They will begin to count how many children she has out of wedlock; how many men she got married to, and the type of background she came from.

Is she from the slave cast? Who were her ancestors? Who are her parents? They will dig deep, and there will be people whose job will be to make sure this woman fails; because to them this is a woman who cannot lead them, not because she is incompetent but because of the results they get from the little survey they conducted on her.

Come to think of it - is that all necessary? We all know that a woman cannot get pregnant without a man, and that if a woman is engaged in mischief; her partner is always a man.

So why should we point fingers at the woman only?We all know for a fact that these are things that break down a woman completely. We also witness cases where a woman contesting, under an independent ticket for a parliamentary seat, was disowned by her fellow women publicly. When will women-to-women castigation stop when it comes to elections?

As a woman, why would you let such words break you down and become an obstacle to your dream? Talking is a self-employed job and one does not need papers to qualify for it; so people will talk about other people because they do it at no cost to them.

If you are a woman and wants to contest for a public position, you should be willing and brave enough to tackle the stigma, discrimination and stereotype that come with it.

You should remember that everyone has a past, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, but it is also the past that we use to better the future with.

A woman that is contesting for election does not commit a crime; rather she is exercising her constitutional right, and instead of us exercising our constitutional right of supporting and voting for whom we want, we choose to wage war on these women, which is not fair.

How many of our men are present at the labour wards when their wives are about to deliver? How many of our men accompany their wives to the hospital for antenatal care? Some of the men even lost count as to when their wives will deliver.

It is only a woman that can know what her fellow women needs in the hospitals, with regards to their sexual reproductive health rights promotion.

As a woman, don’t allow yourself to be reduced to a clapping, cheering, dancing and singing being!

You can be a leader too, just like President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and many others.

We hope to see a woman or women participating in the 2016 election!