By Sariba Manneh
‘Election Watch Committee’ (EWC), which is an Election Observer Mission, has recommended the Gambia’s National Assembly to prioritise the legislation of a quota system for both parliamentary and local government elections to ensure the representation of women and people with disability, into elected offices.
Based on its observations, EWC released its final report on the last Local Government Elections on Wednesday 22nd November 2023, at a local hotel in Senegambia.
Over the years, women’s participation in The Gambia has been limited due to many factors, including cultural, social and economic barriers.
According to the 2021 IEC voter register, women form 57 percent of the general voter population, making them the most significant group participating in electing candidates. However, women’s participation is minimal particularly as candidates in the country’s electoral cycle.
According to EWC’s Local Government Election report, out of 367 aspirants who submitted their nominations, only 58 were women, representing 16 percent of the candidates.
In the Mayoral and Chairperson elections, EWC note that out of 32 aspirants, only 2 were women, representing only 6.25 percent of the contested candidates, and indicates that only 1 (Banjul) out of 8 positions were won by women.
In all EWC Observation report, women’s participation has been a priority area for the Committee.
AnsumanaCamara, Chairperson of the Committee, said EWC seeks to promote youth, women and people with disability in the electoral cycle and facilitate a well-coordinated and organized observation of the electoral process.
“We also promote transparent and accountable electoral processes in the Gambia by promoting and fostering peace and stability before, during and after elections. This is one reason why EWC is funded,” he said.
ArtanAlijaj, Senior Resident Director of the National Democratic Institute, said every country should ensure election processes are observed and validated to international standards.
Election Watch Committee (EWC) is a partnership of seven organizations with different expertise and backgrounds and they are: Peace Ambassadors-The Gambia (PAG); ACTIVISTA; National Youth Parliament (NYP); ‘Think Young Women’ (TYW); ‘Beakanyang’; Peace Hub – The Gambia (PHTG) and The Gambia Federation of the Disabled (GFD). They all collaborate to observe the electoral process in The Gambia.
The EWC’s observation of the 2023 Local Government elections was built on their past experience in observing the 2021 Presidential election; the Voter Registration process; the display of a provisional list of voters; nomination of candidates and the campaign period, as well as the 2022 National Assembly elections.