WFD is working in collaboration with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK) to support The Gambia’s National Assembly, through measures like supporting a Research and Library Unit to enable evidence-based debate among National Assembly Members, supporting the digitisation of parliamentary records and providing training to newly-eleted representatives.
Through the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy, WFD is targeting political parties to promote democracy that is inclusive of women, youth and persons with disabilities.
In December 2016, the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, unexpectedly won in The Gambia Presidential elections in the first transfer of political power through peaceful elections in the Gambia’s history. Barrow’s electoral success ended the long-term incumbent Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule, leading to a renewed energy for democratic processes in the country. Subsequent parliamentary elections on 6 April 2017 brought new Members to 90% of seats in the National Assembly and a new parliamentary majority. There are high public expectations for the new National Assembly.
Subsequent parliamentary elections on 6 April 2017 witnessed over 90% of new Members entering the National Assembly. There are high public expectations for the new National Assembly to enable the country transition to democracy. The country has embarked on ambitions constitution-building and transitional justice processes which include security sector and civil service reforms as well as legal and institutional reforms.
The National Assembly comprises 54 members with three elected women and two nominated women including one woman representative with visual impairment. There is an urgent need for more inclusion, participation and representation of women, youth and persons with disabilities.
WFD’s engagement began with an analysis of the outgoing parliament in March 2017, followed by a joint WFD – CPA UK assessment mission in the context of the new National Assembly. Among the urgent needs identified was support for the new National Assembly Members (NAMs) and a need to ‘bring parliament to the people.’ WFD and CPA UK organised an induction for new NAMs using the expertise of local experts and MPs from the British Parliament. With over 90% of NAMs newly-elected, supporting them to understand their role is critical to enable them ensure change is in line with citizens’ expectations.
WFD is strengthening the human and institutional capacity of the National Assembly to help Members better fulfil their oversight, law-making and representation functions. Over the past months, WFD has built the capacity of the Research and Library Unit of the National Assembly to produce research which can be used by MPs to have evidence-based debates. The foundation has also supported the creation of the Communications Unit following an assessment of the communications needs of the Assembly and supported the digitisation of the National Assembly’s Hansard function to ensure the timely publication of Hansard, the written record of what is said in the National Assembly.
WFD is supporting women’s political participation and representation which remains low in the National Assembly. There are only three elected women members and two nominated members one of whom is the Speaker. WFD will conduct policy dialogues on inclusion, seeking to generate the support and commitment of members to enhance women’s representation.
Through the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (CP4D), WFD is targeting political parties to promote inclusive democracy. Launched in 2019, the programme aims to support political parties to restructure and strengthen internal democracy and thus become not only active stakeholders in the democratization process of The Gambia but also more open and inclusive of women, youth and PWDs.