Source: Daily Observer
An initiative that seeks to promote women's participation in politics, entitled 'Women in Politics' was Wednesday launched by The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO), in collaboration with the United States Embassy at the TANGO head office along the Bertil Harding Highway.

Funded by the US Embassy under the Democracy and Human Rights Fund, which will last for a period of 12 months, the initiative is aimed at promoting the active participation and representation of women in representative institutions and decision-making processes.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Ousman Yarbo, the executive director of TANGO, expressed delight at the initiative, stating that the project is one of those important projects that institutions need to invest into. He said the issue of women not participating in politics is serious in terms of gender quality, as there are reasons that prevent women from participating in politics. He added that his organisation is calling on all women, be it young or old to come out and show their hidden talents. "As a politician you have to take it as a challenge. People will talk about you because you should be seen as a role model. Questions will come your way, but most of the women don't like to be screened," he remarked. Yarbo emphasised that the aim of the project is for women to be open and become active in politics, while expressing gratitude to their partners and the people for working tirelessly with them.

The deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy in Banjul, Richard Yoneoka, for his part, said the occasion was meant to recognise and foster the longstanding partnership between the US Embassy and TANGO, saying the latter has played an invaluable role in the promotion of democracy, good governance and economic development. "Along with its 74-member organisations," he added, "TANGO has done vital work to protect human rights, alleviate poverty, support responsible environment management and teach youth the importance of education and life skills." The US Embassy's No. 2 further acknowledged the work of TANGO, saying the non-governmental organisations' supreme body has also worked to educate and foster dialogue on gender sensitivity and gender equality, as well as promoting a discussion of traditional gender roles and the empowerment of women and youth, especially in the political process.

Yoneaka went on to avert that encouraging engagement and fostering acceptance of women and youth as political and social actors will not only make institutions more representative and better performing, but also have lasting positive effects on the community. "Since taking office, President Obama and his administration have been guided by the knowledge that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity," he told the launching ceremony.

He said: "One of the objectives is to promote the participation of women in peace processes and decision-making; their intent is to improve the prospects for inclusive, just, and sustainable peace by promoting and strengthening women's rights and effective leadership and substantive participation in decision-making institutions." He concluded by encouraging the State Department to work with partner organisations such as TANGO to fund programmes that would empower women.

The vice chairperson of TANGO, Jainaba Nyang-Njie, expressed delight over the initiative, saying it is one of the most important subjects within the framework of national governance and development. The Women in Politics project, she noted, came on the heels of efforts made by the Female Lawyers Association (FLAG) and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Right Studies, whom she said have since last year begun the pioneering work to address the issue of women's representation and participation in national affairs.

"The reason for the Initiative is simply because women, who formed the majority in the country remain at the bottom rungs of society," she explained, adding: "Not only is the illiteracy rate higher among women, but there are ample evidence to show that more women are living with HIV/AIDS than men."


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