Gambian Lawmaker, Hon. Fatmata Njai says the ECOWAS Parliament can achieve 30 per cent representation of women in parliament only if it rejects nominations from countries not meeting the criteria.
Njai expressed this thought while speaking with journalists during the Fifth Legislature’s Delocalized meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament holding in Monrovia with the theme, “Empowerment of Women in the ECOWAS Region.”
Njai said it was pertinent to note that some countries lacked female representation in the Conference of Bureau in the ECOWAS Parliament; a trend which she said was in disregard “of the ECOWAS Rules of Procedures.”
“The Rules of Procedures mentioned that each member country should have a female representation at the Conference of Bureau.
“Each country has three members in the Conference of Bureau, so, each country can at least have one female member which will be thirty per cent representation.
“I think if we are to preach something, we should be seen acting what we preach.
“We can ask countries to send 30 per cent and we must enforce that as well.
“But if countries say that they do not have 30 per cent, what is stopping them from having 30 per cent?
“It is not that they do not have females in these countries. They have them and they have competent women as well, but why are they not winning elections?
“I think that is the question,” Njai said.
The Gambian lawmaker urged countries in the sub-region to create a level-playing field for all genders in order to be able to address the question of why women are not winning elections.
“When I first joined the ECOWAS Parliament, we were 25 women in number. We have lost some of the women and I think now we are 18 in number which is something that should be addressed.
“Why are women losing elections, and why are countries not sending the 30 per cent as stipulated and is required from them by ECOWAS.
“I think that if countries send a list that is short of 30 per cent, the ECOWAS should reject that list,” Njai added.
She urged women not to just sit down, fold their arms, and wait until they were “given the ball to play.
“We should actually demand it or grab it ourselves. So, I don’t see that as a problem. I see us women being our own enemies because like somebody mentioned, if a woman wants to run for office, it is the same women that would refuse to vote for them, and for us being in the majority why should that happen?
“We should vote for our fellow women and be at the table where the men are.
“I implore my female counterparts not to give up. It might be difficult but it is not impossible, That is what I always say.’’ the Gambian lawmaker said.
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