By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Legislative House on Thursday delayed the voting by members on the bill seeking seats to be reserved for women and Persons with Disability (PWD) in Parliament to 21st February.
The House took the decision because the members present at the House did not meet the quorum, after members debated the merits and reasons of the Bill.
The bill also wants to ensure gender equity in parliament and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in politics.
Moving the bill for a second reading, Fatoumatta [Touma] Njai, National Assembly Member for Banjul South said the bill seeks to amend the constitution of the Republic of the Gambia 1997 by enlarging the composition of the National Assembly and providing the reservation of specific seats for women and persons with disability.
“It is envisaged that, if it is passed, the bill will guarantee participation of women and persons with disability on the conduct of public affairs in The Gambia in line with the consultative process that led to the inclusion of these same proposal in the 2020 draft Constitution,” NAM Njai said.
She added that the bill also imposes an obligation on political parties to promote gender equity in the selection of candidates to contest National Assembly elections as well as the respect for human rights.
Ndey Yassin Secka, nominated member who seconded the bill said the move is in the right direction since it seeks to reserve seats for women and persons with disability.
“It’s also a very important bill because when the bill is passed it will be a legacy for the fifth legislative of the National Assembly,” she observed.
The nominated member expressed confidence that her fellow parliamentarians would say no to the bill considering the sacrifice the women normally make for men in terms of politics.
Hon. Muhammed Ndow, member for Banjul Central praised the bill as ‘very good’ and said women should be given a chance to participate in elections and decision-making processes in The Gambia.
“It’s always difficult for women to be elected in the Parliament. Most of the time, they are nominated to be part of the Parliament since independence up to date, which should now be a thing of the past,” he suggested.
Fatoumatta Jawara, member for Talinding said women are the most vulnerable people in the society but constitute 52% of the country’s population.
“As women, I don’t think our rights should be tampered because we constitute 52% of the Gambia’s population and yet we are the most vulnerable people in our societies,” said Hon Fatoumatta Jawara.
She said the reason the women should be given the chance to be in the parliament is that they are caregivers both at home and outside and they always support men but they are always left behind and now is the time for men also to give their support to women in politics.
Hon Alfusainey Ceesay of Sami constituency said the reserve seats being talking about was part of the 2020 draft Constitution and it’s the same members who threw the draft out of the house and they want to bring it back which is too late because the parliamentary election is just at the corner (9th April 2022).
Ceesay suggested the bill should be taken to the National Assembly Business Committee (ABC) for more scrutiny.
Like the member for Sami constituency, the member for illissa, Dembou Camara said the time is too short for the bill to be passed because the parliament will soon go for election.
He also said looking in the Gambia, we have Muslims and Christians and in most communities, they do not allow women to lead; thus, he called on the mover to have consultation with the religious leaders to make things easy for them.
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