By Edrissa Jallow
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliamentary Joint Committee expressed deep concern over “low” women representation in the ECOWAS member states. In response to this ECOWAS recommended for member states to increase women’s representation as a key target to implement the ECOWAS protocol on democracy.
ECOWAS Chairperson on Gender, Hon Ayamba Laadi Ayii read the conclusion and recommendations during the closing of the three-day interface dialogue amongst the Joint Committee on Friday 19th August 2022 at the Gambia’s International Conference Centre, Bijilo.
Reading the conclusion, Hon Ayamaba noted that “members of the Joint Committee express deep concerns over the low political representation of women despite the adoption of the ECOWAS text parity and the existence of national legislation”.
This has resulted in the ECOWAS Joint Committee to recommends member states “get involved without delay in securing the electoral processes, particularly through programs aimed at preventing contemporary cyber-attacks threats and the take in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and appropriate process to harmonize in…constitution and electoral laws as well as legislation on political parties, the rights to demonstrate freedom of opinion and of the press; the status of the armed of the security forces, the fights against corruption and women representation with [the] relevant position of the protocol on democracy and good governance”.
The Committee further recommends that the “development reflected the lack of political will, particularly at the level of political actors and should be corrected to information and awareness campaigns aimed at all stakeholders”.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Africa Peer Review Mechanism, of The Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Parliament, Hon Edwin Snowe Junior informed the audience that the adoption of the report will be finalized in Abuja, Nigeria.
Hon Njai: “Women should be given their Dues, We are The Majority in This World”
In an exclusive interview with Gambian National Assembly member for Banjul South constituency, Hon Fatoumatta Njai commended the recommendation of the ECOWAS Joint Committee drafted during the three-day interface dialogue.
“I believe that women should be given their dues, we are the majority in this world and we are the majority in the region, we are (the) majority in this country, so we should be respected and given what is due to us,” says Hon Njai
After winning her first term in Parliament back in 2017 via the Peoples Progressive Party ticket. However, she went independent after a fallout with other Party Leaders leading to her expulsion from the Party. The resilient Parliamentarian defied all the odds to contest via an independent ticket to win her second term in office despite fierce competition.
Hon Njai who is among the Gambia’s Parliamentarians delegation of the ECOWAS Parliament noted that she is “not going to give up until I (Hon Njai) see the number of seats that women deserve occupied at the parliament”.
It could be recalled on Monday 21st February 2022, Hon Njai and former Vice President of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Touray clashed over the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021 which Gainako published. The Private Members Bill tabled by Hon Njai proposed to amend The Gambia’s 1997 Constitution to expand the number of elected members in Parliament by an additional fourteen (14) seats for women and persons with disabilities.
The Bill failed at its second attempt to be read for its second reading due to the failure of a sufficient number of Parliamentarians attending for a vote to be held on the bill. In that regard, the Hon Speaker of the 5th Legislature, Hon Mariam Jack Denton ruled out the bill from Parliament’s agenda.
“The National Assembly has never encountered a situation where voting on the Second Reading of a Bill was hampered because of the absence of the required threshold,” Hon Denton noted in her reaction to the failed Bill.
Hon Njai contested in April 2022 Parliamentary Elections against 3 three men in Banjul South and secured more votes as shown in the table above.
According to the IEC data, 19 women were nominated for the April 2022 Parliamentary election. However, only 3 were elected in the name Fatou Cham for Sanneh Mentereng (10,794 Votes), Amie Colley for Foni Berefet (3,034 Votes), and Fatoumatta Njai (1,538 Votes) for Banjul South.