A Gambian woman has for the first time joined the race for presidency in the small West African nation.
Dr Isatou Touray, Gambia’s leading women’s rights activist, has confirmed she is joining the race for the country’s top job as an independent candidate.
After months of speculation associating her with the country’s main opposition United Democratic Party, Dr Touray confirmed that she will run for presidency but as an independent candidate.
“The news is true,” she told The Torch, referring to the newspaper publication which on Monday quoted anonymous sources revealing her desires to join the race for presidency.
She, however, declined to make any further comment until when she launches her candidature on Friday.
“I will address a press conference on Friday,” she said.
Even for an uncompromising feminist who for three decades dared social and political isolations in her advocacy for women’s rights especially Female Genital Mutilation, her announcement has caught many by surprise in a country where women’s roles are generally confined to homes.
“She can make a good candidate but it will be difficult for her to get the support needed to become president,” Essa Njie, a Gambian political analyst, argued.
“The religious and cultural believes of the people here have confined women to specific roles which are often social like house wife or other inferior positions. So she is a strong candidate given her educational and professional background but it will be difficult for her get the support she needs to be president.”
Dr Touray is a co-founder and an executive director of the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), an institution synonymous with the fight against FGM in the country.
With 9 political parties and 2 independent candidates, all of whom are likely to be men, Dr Touray is expected to have a rough ride in a country where majority of people are Muslim conservatives.
Dr Touray often criticize the APRC regime for not giving women’s rights issues enough consideration and has since been advocating for greater women’s participation in politics.
Gambian women have made considerable progress in terms of their involvement in decision making under Jammeh regime with 4 women ministers and 5 lawmakers.
However, the women generally remain cheerleaders in Gambian politics, far behind men.
In June 2012, Dr Touray and her colleague Amie Bojang-Sissoho, have won a corruption case brought against them by the state, following which they were acquitted and discharged.
The two women rights activists were arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court and charged for stealing €30,000 Euros, but they always maintained their innocence.
The trial lasted two years and captured public attention from the onset, with some people claiming it was politically motivated.