So far as the place and contribution of women are concerned, it has been the policy and practice of United Democratic Party to put women in the fore front or our activities and decision making.
Since the inception of the party, women have been fully represented at Executive level and as officials of various women’s and youth wing. At national level, we believe that women should be fully involved in political decision making at both the local and national levels. There must be representation of women in local councils and national parliament which is at very abysmal.
The UDP believes that the starting point of addressing the women’s issue is to attack their poverty status. Women make up a substantial majority of the Gambia’s poor. The prevalence of female headed households, the lower earning capacity of our women and their limited control over their spouse’s income all contribute to this disturbing phenomenon. In addition the Gambian women have less access to education, formal sector employment programmes. These facts combine to ensure that poor women financial resources are meagre and must be improved relative to men’s. To address these, the UDP strives to;
· Bridge the large earning differential between men and women by instituting equal pay for similar task and break down barriers of entry of women to higher paid jobs. By opening access to some in urban areas to obtain formal employment in private companies or public agencies instead of restricting them only to low informal productivity jobs. In the rural areas our women will be given adequate resources necessary to generate stable incomes.
· The UDP believes that a review of legislation and the social customs that prohibits women from owning landed properties or signing financial contracts without a husband’s signature. The ineligibility of women for institutionally provided resources such as credit and training will also be reviewed.
· The UDP also feels that review government employment or income enhancing programs to be made more accessible to women thus reducing existing income disparities between men and women. Programmes to alleviate poverty increase training programmes urban areas to increase earning potential and formal sector employment for women’s produce such as vegetable plots are being encouraged through the Women’s Wing.
· The UDP aim at more integration of women in development programmes, which must be drawn into the economic mainstream. This entails increasing the rate of female participation in educational and training programmes, formal sector employment and agricultural extension programmes. It is also of primary importance that precautions be taken to ensure that women have equal access to government resources provided through schooling, services, employment and social security programmes. In order to improve the economic status of women, we shall also provide incentives for the informal sector which employs the majority of the female labour force.
· The aim has been to address the consequences of the decline in women’s relative or absolute economic status which has both ethical and longer economic implication. We are of the view that any process of growth that fails to improve the welfare of the people experiencing the greatest hardship, broadly recognised to be women and children, results not only in the disempowerment of women, but also fails to accomplish one of the principal goals of development. In the long run, the current low status of women is likely to translate into a slower rate of economic growth. It is for this reason that the UDP will do everything in its power to ameliorate the status of women.
Apart from the positions reserved ex officio for women on National Executive – National Chairperson Women’s Wing, Secretary Women’s Wing, President Female Youth Wing and Secretary Female Youth Wing, the post of Secretary for Legal and Human Rights Matters is held by a woman. This position, which is fourth in the hierarchy of officials, is held by a professional lady. Out of a total membership of twenty five on National Executive, ten are females.