People are at the heart of democracy, and so people are at the heart of WFD’s work. In this article, find out more about Nenneh Gomez, a woman political leader who is taking part in WFD’s training in the Gambia.
Nenneh Freda Gomez is a key founding member of the Citizens’ Alliance party, a political party in the Gambia. On 28th November 2020, she was elected the party’s spokesperson – becoming the first woman in The Gambia to hold such a position. It was a key milestone in the West African state where the political landscape is mostly male dominated.
Nenneh hosting the CA Party Manifesto launch on Dec 5, 2020.
Although she might have broken new grounds when it comes to political parties’ leadership, Nenneh’s interest in politics came later in her life. She says, “Growing up I thought politics was not my business. My business is to go to school, achieve my degrees, be able to get a job, build a family and live a comfortable life.”
Nenneh (second from left) during her high school days.
According to her, her time as a student in the United States was an eye opener.
Nenneh (second from left) during her graduation.
“I started to see the difference from where I was coming from, to where I was at the time. And I asked myself, why are we so far off? And I realized we can do better…and how is that going to happen? through getting involved in something called politics. I started to pay keen attention, to read a lot and to get involved.”
Nenneh taking part in an activism campaign.
However, it was not until 2016 – a period of transition in Gambian leadership – that the 40-year-old single parent of one began her active involvement in politics. It all started when Adama Barrow, won the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, managed to unseat long serving President Yahya Jammeh in the December 2016 elections. President Jammeh, who first seized power through a bloodless military coup in 1994, had ruled the country for over two decades with an iron fist a successful property developer who had never held public office presidential nomination of seven parties that formed the opposition coalition in September 2016.
“I took leave of absence out of my job in November to join the coalition and take part,
instead of just be on the side-lines and only vote on the day. I wanted to be part of
the change.” Says Nenneh . So, when President Barrow was elected the third president, many viewed it as a breath of fresh air in leadership.
But in June 2017, just four months after the inauguration of President Barrow,
Nenneh felt that the new president was not living up to his campaign promises:
“When the current government reneged on all its promises to the people, I resigned
from my job of almost two decades to get into full-time politics.”
Nenneh’s decision to quit her position as an assistant manager in a bank to join
politics – an unpredictable arena – did not make sense to many, including her family.
“They were really worried. But I believe the woman issue has to be connected to a cause. Somebody has got to sacrifice and that is what I am doing, sacrifice for country.” She states, explaining that her move was out of necessity to make sure women’s voices are heard.
Nenneh (second from right in black) with her previous colleagues at GTBank.
Women constitute more than half (50.6%) of the population in The Gambia. Despite that, most of the leadership positions in the country are occupied by men. For instance, there are only six women among the 58 members of the Gambian Parliament. On the cabinet level, there are only three women ministers and a female Vice President in the Cabinet. The same challenge runs down to the local leadership level; women constitute only eight of the 120 councillors in the country.
The disparity can be hugely attributed to
“Why have we been relegated to be tailors, cooks, housewives and to be selling in the markets?” Nenneh questions. “The belief that women should not be educated, or you are just educated to a certain level and then you are given out for marriage is a hinderance for women.” She adds.
As a solution, Nenneh – who plans to vie for presidency in the next ten years – calls on women to unite and support each other: “We need to create the space for each other to be able to assume those leadership positions and be able to take part in the discourse.”
As part of WFD’s efforts to help promote women leadership in the Gambia, we partnered with the Community of Democracies to hold a training workshop on effective communication. The three-day training focused on exposing 20 women leaders effective participation in politics.
long-standing barriers that exclude women
from active political participation and leadership. The barriers are mostly structural and socio-cultural. With Gambia being a patriarchal society, most women remain uneducated, the poorest and the most politically disempowered due to societal
norms that favour men over them.
, from 11th to 13th January 2021,
to tools and strategies that empower their
Nenneh, who was among the participants, says:
titled Strengthening Civic and Political Participation of Women in The Gambia.
The goal of the five-month long project is to support Gambian female leaders to strengthen their skills to overcome some of the barriers and blockages holding them back from fully participating in politics.
“I was really happy that we had the training. When you look at it, it was women
from different political parties, civil societies or other organizations that came
together. The training opened the eyes of the women leaders and emboldened
The training was the second workshop of the sort, after the first one – aimed at strengthening women’s leadership – was held in November 2020. The workshops were part of a project
According to Madi Jobarteh – WFD’s Country Representative in The Gambia:
“The programme came at a critical juncture in the political history of the Gambia when full democracy was being ushered after decades of authoritarian rule, with lot of focus on women’s participation and representative in decision making structures. Hence the programme serves to further enhance the equal participation of women within the wider democratic dispensation taking place.”
All the 20 participants of the two workshops will convene for a final session on March 5, 2021. A review of the leaders’ action plans will be conducted with general tips and guidance offered during the session. All the participants will also be awarded
certificates on the same day