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Elections Watch Advocates for 30% Women Representation in Political Parties’ Executives

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Officials of Election Watch at the press conference

By Landing Ceesay

In its position paper on the 2022 Election Bill, The Elections Watch Committee (EWC) has urged Gambia’s political parties to ensure 30% female representation in their executive memberships.

This announcement was made by the EWC on Saturday during a press conference.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Mr. Ansumana Camara, addressed journalists, highlighting that women’s political participation in the Gambia has been historically limited due to cultural, social, and economic barriers.

“According to the 2021 IEC Voter Register, Women form about 57 percent of the general voter population, making them the largest group that participates in electing candidates. Women’s participation, particularly as candidates in the electoral cycle of the country, is very limited. According to EWC’s Councilor election report, out of the 367 aspirants that submitted their nominations, there were only 58 women aspirants, representing only 16% of the candidates. In the Mayoral and Chairperson elections, out of 32 aspirants, only 2 were women, representing only 6.25% of the candidates that contested. The IEC report indicates that only 1 (Banjul) out of 8 positions were won by women,” Mr. Camara said.

Mr. Camara noted that The Gambia is a signatory to the Maputo Protocol, which promotes the rights of women to participate in the political and decision-making processes of their countries. He noted that Article 9(1) of the Protocol mandates that political parties take specific positive actions to promote participative governance and the equal participation of women in political life through affirmative action, enabling national legislation, and other measures.

Mr. Camara emphasized that the Protocol aims to ensure that women can participate in all elections without discrimination and are equally represented with men at all levels in all electoral processes.

“Our recommendation is that Section 106(7) of the Election Bill be read as: Political parties shall have at least thirty percent of women representation in their Executive Membership,” Mr. Camara told the Journalists.

He also urged the National Assembly of the Gambia to thoroughly debate the Election Bill 2022 and consider the potential consequences of having a law that does not promote free and fair elections.

“Save our democratic gains and strengthen the conduct of free and fair elections by promulgating laws based on the values and principles of democracy, as enshrined in the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance (ACDEG),” Mr. Camara said.

Mr. Camara underscored that transitional justice involves not just truth commissions, but also reforms in institutions and the legal framework guiding the country’s operations.

“To bring the Never Again slogan into existence, the Truth Commission’s work needs to be complemented by the legal reforms necessary to shape the democratic culture of our country. That responsibility is placed in you, our honourable National Assembly Members,” he said.

The Elections Watch Committee released its position paper on the 2022 Election Bill on Saturday. Elections Watch is a coalition of seven diverse organizations aimed at promoting election integrity, accountability, transparency, and impartiality through monitoring and observation.

The position paper aims to inform and guide the National Assembly, facilitating the improvement of electoral reforms in The Gambia. It provides background information on the need for electoral reform and outlines methods for achieving it.

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