Honourable Fatoumata Njai (Touma Njai), one of the few female parliamentarians in the Gambia’s National Assembly, has revealed that work has started to bring back her private member Constitutional Amendment Bill, which had sought to give women sixteen seats in Parliament. However, the bill was rejected due to a lack of quorum, which observers said was done deliberately to prevent the bill from passing to the next stage.
Hon. Touma Njai was re-elected for a second term in the 2022 Parliamentary election as an Independent candidate. She is currently in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to attend a dialogue forum on women’s proportional representation in politics, organised by the Ecowas female parliamentary association. She celebrates Sierra Leone for passing the gender equality law earlier this year.
“It is quite heart-warming to see them pass a bill that I shared with them because after drafting our bill, I shared it with my colleagues at the Ecowas Parliament,” said Hon. Touma Njai.
She is now urging the Government of The Gambia to emulate Sierra Leone in passing a similar law before the 2027 elections in The Gambia.
Despite the unfortunate rejection of her Bill, the outspoken Banjul South lawmaker reveals her plans to bring back the Bill in Parliament. “The groundwork has started, and we are consulting all stakeholders,” she said.
As a result of a lack of quorum, we need more women in key decision-making positions, such as the National Assembly.
Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of the Ecowas Parliament, assured the Community Parliament’s commitment to accompany The Gambia to pass a gender-equality law.
“I have already started a conversation with the Majority Leader [Billay Tunkara] of The Gambia’s Parliament, regarding the gender Bill. We want to engage all national assemblies and all stakeholders on this issue,” he concluded.
It is widely believed that women deserved to be voted in most electoral positions and not to be pushed back.