Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, a prominent pro-democracy activist in the Gambia has been named ‘Woman of the Year’ by the New African Woman magazine. She was awarded along with other African women who excelled in their chosen fields. Her award was received by a representative.
Tambajang who holds the post of Minister of Women’s Affairs was also nominated by President Adama Barrow as his Vice-President – but constitutional age limit made it impossible for her to hold that post.
The award ceremony, in its second year, was held at a Gala Dinner at the Terrou-Bi hotel in the Senegalese capital Dakar on Wednesday 12 April. Winners have been selected by a special panel of judges from 68 shortlisted candidates across a dozen categories.
The awards were instituted to celebrate and honour African women who have made exceptional impact and change in their countries or communities in a particular year – in this case for the year 2016.
Who is Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang?
Tambajang – a former Jammeh appointee – is credited with being one of the main brains behind the formation of a coalition going into the December 1, 2016 polls. The group led by Adama Barrow unseated long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh after 22 years in charge.
Tambajang, who was a former United Nations Development Program (UNDP) gender/development expert served as a cabinet minister in the government of Yahya Jammeh. She was Minister of Health, Social Welfare and Women’s Affairs.
She however became a vocal critic of Jammeh regime and repeatedly condemned the arrest and detention of members of the then opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and the heavy crackdown on media.
If she had been passed as vice president, she would have occupied a role left by another female, Isatou Njie-Saidy, Jammeh’s long-serving deputy who resigned in the wake of the political impasse after Jammeh’s refusal to accept defeat.
Other winners included:
Nigeria’s Amina J. Mohammed – the new United Nations Deputy Secretary – she took home the New African Woman in Politics and Public Office. Prior to her new post, she served as Minister of Environment.
The Award for Women in Health, Science and Technology went to Namibia’s Dr. Helena Ndume – a pioneering ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon, who has to date, performed over 35,000 sight-restoring surgeries on Namibians, completely free of charge.
Morocco saw serial entrepreneur Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch, take home the New African woman Award in Business.*
Zimbabwean philanthropists and educationist Tsitsi Masiyiwa, received the New African Woman Award in Education for her work with Higherlife Foundation – a not for profit organisation she runs and offers scholarships to orphaned and vulnerable children to give them a better chance in education.
The much-talked about New African Woman on the Rise (The Next Generation) – a category which received the most nominations - went to the Kenyan girls rights activist and UN Women youth advisor Vivian Onano.
The New African Woman in Civil Society was given to Chief Theresa Kachindamoto, who annulled over 300 child marriages in her village in Malawi, a feat that played an important role in forcing the government to ban child marriages in the country all together.
Other winners were Nigeria’s Joan Okorodudu (New African Woman In The Arts & Culture) for her services to raising the profile of African models and fashion.
Mali’s Binta Touré Ndoye (New African Woman – in Finance); Amira Yahyaoui of Tunisia (New African Woman in Media) and the former African Union Commissioner Agriculture and Rural Development.
Tumusiime Rhoda Peace from Uganda was named the New African Woman in Agriculture for pushing the importance of food security and adding value chain to African goods while she was at the AU.
The New African Woman in Sport went to the Senegal’s Fatma Samoura - the world football body’s Secretary General – a position she was appointed to in 2016, becoming the first African woman to hold the post.
The New African Woman Awards is followed by a Forum on 13 April, under the theme Changing The Game.