by Alagi Yoro Jallow
President Barrow’s minor cabinet reshuffle has shaped up to have a smaller percentage of women Cabinet Secretaries than his first cabinet and that of his predecessor’s cabinet picks for decades.This cabinet makes it one of the least gender-balanced cabinets in our history. It is unremarkable. A new report shared exclusively has found that 80 percent of appointments for top jobs in the Barrow administration have gone to men – putting President Barrow on track to assemble the most male-dominated Cabinet Secretaries in decades. Without a significant shift, men will outnumber women in top positions of the Barrow administration.
President Adama Barrow has taken a very comfortable posture. He has not stretched nor challenged himself. He is an unorthodox politician and it seems this has come through the choice of cabinet, bizarrely risk averse. He has fired almost all the ministers that did not support his political agenda. Fair enough!!President Barrow has disproportionately staff his administration with men. Yahya Jammeh, in contrast attracted scorn for filling 60% of political positions with women in cabinets, and for passing over women for several high-profile cabinet appointments.
In my earlier postings, I wrote how Spain has demonstrated what women empowerment means: “Spain has set a record; female participation in government. 11 of the 17 ministers sworn in yesterday are women (61%). Prime minister Pedro Sanchez says he wants his progressive government to be a “loyal reflection of the best in a society it aspires to serve”. In the female-dominated cabinet, ladies hold the economy, finance, defense, foreign affairs & education portfolios – a post-kickback government unequivocally committed to equality. Yes. Breaking barriers: a planet, away? (Source: BBC)”
In a thunderbolt delivered on a weary Friday afternoon, President Adama Barrow in one fell swoop dumped women who propped his first Cabinet. In the national announcement preceded by a soothing preamble on cabinet appointments, the President retained only two female Cabinet Secretaries and appointed fresh male faces. Home-bound after Friday’s shocker are all the two women Cabinet Secretaries and 14 of their male colleagues. This Cabinet reshuffle is sloppy. It is difficult to understand why the President keeps shortchanging women. Why does the President ignore gender parity? There’s a strong correlation between economic and political empowerment: these two areas seem to reinforce one another, as women get ahead at work and seek better representation in politics; and as female politicians set policies to support women’s professional lives,” Ceri Parker, Associate Director and Commissioning Editor at the World Economic Forum, wrote, “If we want a world with no gender gap, we need changes in policies, in business practices and in cultural attitudes.”
A renounced Political analyst pointed out the business case for diversity — which diversity has proven time and again: more diversity in management makes companies and organizations more successful.
There’s a fair amount of social science research now that shows if a company is more diverse, if there are more women on the board, if there are more women in the company, if there are more minorities, the company performs better.
President Barrow’s decision to exclude more gender from serving in his Cabinet is inexcusable and deeply damaging to our representative democracy. President Barrow has dangerously signaled that the people who advise the president to do not need to represent all of Gambians. His cabinet pick decision erodes the forward progress made by every Gambian to seek out bright and qualified women and young people to serve our nation as Cabinet members. His cabinet appointments are anti-democratic.
Furthermore, critics have questioned whether most of President Barrow’s Cabinet picks are even “the best and the brightest.” Instead of assembling a talented and diverse Cabinet that would help advance the interests of all Gambians, Adama Barrow has broken with the gender parity precedent of past presidential administrations and has missed a major opportunity to shed the gender and ethnic divisiveness that were hallmarks of the coalition presidential campaign.
This is not about political correctness. It is about representative democracy, this is a disaster and setback for the country. As president, President Barrow needed to appear like the big man that he is by absorbing a few of the ministers from the camp that did not support him. It is woeful that some ministers been retained. We know President Barrow is the boss but appointing an “adversary” would have shown his true greatness.