In Africa, it takes a strong and determined woman to hold a position of power, and Madame Jallow-Tambajang, the former Vice-President of Gambia, is one such woman.

Ata Fatoumata C.M. Jallow-Tambajang is a Gambian politician and activist who has held a number of high-ranking positions in government. At a point, she was Vice President of the Gambia, Minister of Women Affairs under President Adama Barrow, Chair of the Gambia National Women’s Council, Advisor to Dawda Jawara, Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare in the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council after the military coup d’état in 1994. She was also one of the first two female ministers of the Gambia. 

She could have been sworn in as vice president in January 2017, however, she was sworn in in November 2017 owing to age restrictions.

Madame Jallow-Tambajang had previously served as the Chair of Coalition 2016, an alliance of opposition political groups that formerly backed President Adama Barrow’s candidacy.

She is a Gambian with a BA in French from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. She attended school in Gambia, Dakar, and France.

Madame Jallow-Tambajang spoke at the International Conference on Population and Development in September 1994 on behalf of Gambia. She later worked in development for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) while living in a war-torn Mano River for five years. She also worked in the African Great Lakes region, where she became a captive of a rebel group.

She joined the United Democratic Party (UDP) in 2015, and she was the one who announced President Yahya Jammeh’s trial for corruption in office.

In April 2017, she received the New African Woman of the Year Award from the New African Woman Magazine. She also became a member of the Crans Montana African Women’s Forum Honorary Committee in 2017. Following a cabinet move in 2018, she was sent to the foreign service.

She is the Gambia’s Chief Technical Adviser and Liberia’s UNV/UNDP Gender, Health, and Population Adviser.

Her strong will.

Madame Jallow-Tambajang is a strong-willed woman, as she showed when she was refused her vice-presidential swearing-in due to her age, which was allegedly two years higher than the constitution stipulated. This did not deter her; instead, she contested it, claiming to be a year younger and challenging the public to show that she was two years older than the post required. She won the argument a few months later and was sworn in. Following the incident, the constitution was revised, and the presidential age limit was lifted in July 2017.

Her strength was demonstrated in her participation in the peaceful democratic transition of power in the Gambia in 2016 when she joined forces with seven Gambian opposition political parties, two independents, and four civil society organizations to form the Gambia Coalition. She is deeply rooted in her self-driven and moral qualities of serving mankind and uplifting others.

She didn’t take on the easier tasks in politics; instead, she took on the ones that required high-level talks for coalition and alliance formation.

Regardless of circumstances, background, or age, she continues to develop stronger in the political game despite being a mother of eight children. She experienced the “joys of motherhood” while still exploring the role of a woman in the formal world.

Madame Jallow-Tambajang is a true inspiration and role model for young ladies who want to seize the opportunities that the future has in store for them.

Written By: Joyce C. Nwezeh Obi-Akejelu (Writer, Social media manager and graphic designer with Africa4AfricaWomen/Assert/PAWES).


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