Tuesday, March 21

Gov’t, UN partners launch US$2M initiative to strengthen women leadership, political participation

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Hon. Fatou Kinteh, Minister of Gender, Children & Social Welfare together with UN agencies in The Gambia, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on 25 January 2023 launched a landmark initiative to strengthen women’s participation in politics and leadership.

The two-million-dollar project funded by the UN Secretary General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) seeks to promote legislative reforms, community-level leadership, and political parties’ engagement to provide women with more space in politics.

“The emergence of this project is quite timely,” said Minister Hon. Fatou Kinteh. “Therefore, in empowering women in the political sphere, we must work in partnership, collaboration and commitment in tackling such barriers that hinder women from being well represented in the political arena.”

Women represent more than half of The Gambia’s population, yet they remain highly underrepresented in leadership positions and decision-making platforms. In the next two years, this project seeks to roll back the trend by strengthening national legislation, legal framework, and political parties’ structures to ensure women’s political participation, promote more women in leadership positions at the community level and empower female candidates in national and local elections. The project will also work closely with communities and women-led civil society organizations to give young women the support and confidence to participate both in national and local elections.

“In our development effort, women and girls must be a priority,” said Ms Ndéye Rose Sarr, UNFPA Country Representative in The Gambia.  “It is our responsibility to ensure that women are granted all the opportunities they deserve, including representation in the political space. We need stronger collaboration and coordination to ensure that women are engaged positively in governance and leadership, enhancing their participation in violence prevention, promoting peace and inclusiveness towards national development.”

“This project could not have come at a better time, considering that Local Government Elections will be held in a few months,” said Ms Aissata De, UNDP Resident Representative in The Gambia. “Putting more women in leadership positions and decision-making platforms will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, entrench democracy, and sustain peace in The Gambia.”

“It is in everyone’s interest that women not only have a voice in politics but also a seat at the table,” said Mr Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF The Gambia Representative. “From a young age, many girls aspire for leadership, but socially constructed gender roles and other obstacles hold them back. We must strive to overcome these obstacles and give women the space and support to participate in politics and assume leadership roles.”