By: Landing Ceesay
The leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) has said that his party is being virtually run by women.
“UDP values women participate in politics so much, virtually our party is run by women. Because, the deputy party leader is a woman, the National President is a woman, the deputy National President is a woman, our senior administrative secretary is a woman and these are very key positions in running the day-to-day affairs of any serious political party,” Lawyer Ousainu Darboe stated.
He said when he and his party were reading the draft constitution, they supported the clause which empower women participation in politics. He said they have taken a decision that they will ensure 30% of elective offices being run by female candidates.
“As we were reading the draft constitution as a party, I started thinking about what we should do as [a] party with [the] West Coast Region, when it comes to women representation in the National Assembly, especially in the Kombos and Fonis. My thinking was getting one representative from Foni, one from Kombo; also get one from Kiang, and one from Jarra, together they will represent these regions very effectively in the National Assembly. But unfortunately, the bill as you all know lost the necessary oxygen it needed. Notwithstanding the UDP will continue empowering women participation in politics,” Darboe stated.
The UDP flagbearer made these remarks during a meeting with members of CSO Gender Platform on Tuesday at his party’s headquarters in Manjai. The CSO Gender Platform is a group of women activists who are seeking for a reservation of 16 seats in the National Assembly for women representatives. The group presented a private member bill to Darboe to galvanise the support from UDP to endorse the bill anytime it is tabled in parliament.
Speaking further on the subject, the former Vice President observer that had majority of the country’s educated women taken the footsteps of Mariama Jack Denton [Speaker of the Parliament], and Amie Sillah, [Senior executive member of PDOIS] by participating in the political arena; they (the women advocates) would be fighting for something else but not women representation in the National Assembly.
The former Foreign Minister of the Gambia also stated that since the 90s, he has been encouraging women to run for elective positions.
“Since 1997 I have been calling on women to run for elective offices in the country. I encouraged the late Fanta Samba to run for councillor in Banjul City Council, at a period when the political environment in the country was very hostile. I believe probably the hostile environment of the political arena for the past 22 years is no longer existing in the country,” he said.
He said the hostility of Gambia’s political arena for the past 22 years is no longer existing and that there should be more women running for elective offices.
“I found female representation so appealing and I found out that it is an avenue to encourage women to really participate in politics. So, this private member bill supporting women representation is very progressive. The UDP supported every clause of the draft Constitution including the one that empowers women participation in it and we will also support this private member’s bill as well,” UDP Secretary General stated.
The UDP leader finally assured the members of the CSO Gender Platform of his personal support and the support of his party, especially UDP representatives in the National Assembly.
Lawyer Ousainu Darboe the UDP Secretary General, leader and flagbearer for the 2021 presidential election served as the Foreign Minister and then Vice President under President Barrow before their relationship turned sour.