By Ndey Sowe
Hannah Forster, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) has lamented the under-representation of women in positions of responsibility despite comprising 56 percent of voters in the country.
Forster who described this as ‘‘serious under-representation’’, said the female presence at the National Assembly is a mere seven percent; that they form less than 23 percent in Local Councils and just 17 percent at the Central Executive level.
Forster said gender rights present a challenge from multiple perspectives ranging from deficit in political party participation and representation, to the culture of marginalization of women and the violation of their fundamental human rights.
“Women feel discouraged to voice their problems and concerns and are exposed to the constant pressures of a patriarchal society. We must note the importance of women’s participation and accept that they must lead in the change making democratic process to deliver,” she said.
Madam Forster who was speaking on the topic ‘‘Strengthening women’s voices in Governance and broader society in The Gambia’’, said this on Sunday March 1st 2020, at a local Hotel in Kololi during a forum organized by the World Movement for Democracy and the Centre for International Private Enterprise in collaboration with ‘Future in Our Hands’.
This International Forum dubbed “World Deliver Forum,” aims to strengthen women’s voices in governance and in broader Gambian society and by exploring the mutual interests among women leaders in Government, Civil society and the private sector, in order to encourage their effective partnership. The forum provoked lively discussions and peer group learning opportunities on policy advocacy and the implementation of Government’s National Development Plan (NDP), responsive governance on ethics, society, the economy, political inclusion, inclusive approaches to entrepreneurship and policy engagement.
Madam Forster in her statement also said women need to be recognized because of the important roles they play in society.
“Women need to be encouraged, to get out of their comfort zones and reach across the different sectors; to find mutual interests in advancing inclusive democracy on policies and reform that benefits them and their communities. Government efforts though small, need to be complimented. And all hands must be on deck because the role of women in Government’s public and private partnership, cannot be over emphasized,” she said.
Kumba Sanneh, the Board Chairperson of ‘Future in Our Hands’ applauded their partners for the successful hosting of the event and expressed hope that their aspirations will be fulfilled at the end of the Forum.
Sarata Conateh, Program Officer of Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), highlighted the need for support to provide the enabling environment for the growth of businesses in the country.
She highlighted the partnership between her institution and Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) towards the development of businesses, especially young entrepreneurs.