The National Assembly Member for Banjul South, Fatoumatta Njai, has urged Gambian women to break the stereotypes and contest for elective positions as local government elections approach.
In an interview with The Point, Hon. Njai pledged her commitment to ensuring that women take up leadership roles in The Gambia.
According to the official country statistics, women constitute a large chunk of the population, and 57% of registered voters are women and out of the 58 members of the Gambia’s National Assembly, only five made it to parliament.
Research has shown that the barriers to women’s equal participation in politics are structural, socio-cultural, and institutional.
Women are also underrepresented in relevant positions within political parties and the civil service. With all these indicators, however, Banjul South NAM Fatoumata Touma Njai feels that the current leadership positions do not commensurate with the realities in terms of equal representation as most women are active in political parties as supporters, mobilisers, and voters and not decision makers.
Hon. Njai said she and the Mayoress Rohey Malick Lowe have already paved the way to make it easy for women to take up leadership roles in The Gambia. “We must ensure that women do not wait to be nominated or chosen to run by parties. If I can do it as an independent candidate, other women can do it as well,” she explains.
Speaking further, she encouraged all women to show commitment, while saying it is “very unfortunate and sad” to see that out of 19, only three women could make it to the Parliament plus the two nominated, making it five.
She, however, highlighted that this is her second term and that this term is different from the first, explaining that her first term was a community-based campaign, and the whole of Banjul made a decision to choose their three NAMS and it was a done deal.
“This time around you could see my team was mostly of youth and the campaign to make it happen was very challenging being independent and having big strong parties to contest against,” she disclosed.
The Banjul South NAM, however, noted that the work she had done with the youth as well as the women, made her win, adding that many followed their interest and immediate benefits.
“But since I am not that type of person or I am not into the culture of bribery, I ended up losing many of my previous supporters. I believe many of them believed in my competence but only had a personal interest at heart that was the reason why they didn’t vote for me,” she explained.
Hon Njai disclosed that her passion for politics was driven by the love for humanity, adding that she was brought up in a family where everyone was politically minded.
“My paternal grandfather had always been a political godfather and king maker. He spent a large part of his wealth in politics. So growing up in that midst makes me different from others who do not have role models to look up to in their immediate surroundings.”
She also said that her maternal side also has a close relationship with former president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara who was practically brought up by her mother and also became his grandfather and a source of inspiration.
Honorable Fatoumata thus thanked the people of Banjul South for giving her a second chance in Parliament and further urged all women to be involved in politics.