By: Kebba AF Touray

The Chairman of the IEC, Mr. Alieu Momarr Njie, said voter participation is pivotal in the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections. He made this assertion yesterday 7th  February 2018, at a days’ workshop organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), West Africa Regional Office, in collaboration with the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and the CSO Gender Platform and the Women’s Bureau. The event was held at a local hotel in the Senegambia area. The theme of the workshop centered on the need to promote women’s participation in politics. He said election is recognized as the bed rock of popular participatory democracy and a reliable means of representation of the citizenry. “Election allows people to participate in managing or running public offices, which has become a critical issue in the public domain and requires the need for political participation”, he said

He said section 26 of the Constitution of The Gambia provides for citizens the right to vote and be voted for, based on the Universal and equal suffrage, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 25 and the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights, all recognize the same proclamation.

“In the same vein, the participation of women in this political process has equally been recognized by the national laws and constitutional provisions. The constitution of the republic of The Gambia seeks to promote the participation of women in elections and similarly the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women also seeks to achieve the same objective”, he said. He added that 53% of the electorate are women and that the level of participation of women, especially as candidates and their level of return to the various representative positions, organs of government and the Local Government, is crucial.

“The level of voter participation is a key factor in the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections. The participation of women is crucial in this regard since they are the dominant force in terms of numbers, compared to that of men. It will just be desirable to provide women with ample opportunities to participate effectively not only as voters, but as wining candidates as well”, he said. This he cited, is meant for the quest to promote gender parity in elections and would also give the chance for women to fulfill the quest to take their rightful positions in decision making processes in the popular domain.

“This calls for upholding and preserving political rights of women who constitute the greater part of the population, providing them with access to the electoral process and effectively give them the chance to participate as candidates”, he said.

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