Dr. Isatou Touray

Dr. Isatou Touray is the first woman to run for president in The Gambia’s history and is one of the country’s most respected civic activists with a global reputation of integrity. She is the executive director and co-founder of The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), which led the campaign to ban the practice of FGM in The Gambia. Dr. Touray is a leading voice against gender-based violence and has worked closely with grassroots activists for decades to advance equality and social justice in her country, often at great personal peril.

Dr. Touray is currently standing as an independent candidate for president and represents the most credible challenge to the Yahya Jammeh dictatorship, which has maintained power in the country for over two decades. Over the course of this time period, The Gambia has become one of the most highly repressive nations on the African continent, a situation that has been marked by widespread crackdowns on civil society and the political opposition, disappearances, numerous deaths in custody of activists and journalists, and a fundamental disregard for basic political rights and civil liberties.

In July 2016, nearly two-dozen members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) were sentenced to prison for “inciting violence” after advocating for much-needed electoral reforms. These recent arrests, as well as the deaths in state custody of at least two opposition supporters this year, has created a profound chilling effect in the lead up to elections, making Dr. Touray’s candidacy all the more groundbreaking and courageous.

The upcoming elections in The Gambia are slated for December 1, 2016. 

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Fadumo Dayib

Fadumo Dayib is the first female candidate for president in Somalia’s history. Elections in Somalia are scheduled for October 2016, but could likely be postponed to early 2017.

The inspiring personal journey and courageous political ambition that Fadumo exemplifies has the potential to transform one of the Africa’s most highly repressive societies, and a nation that has suffered from truly intolerable levels of violence, warfare and military dictatorship for over three decades. Dayib is running on a courageous platform of good governance, responsible leadership, women’s empowerment and equal economic empowerment. Her candidacy, and her ultimate success, could have a profoundly positive impact on Somalia and for the overall region.

The Horn of Africa – of which Somalia is a part – has been a chronic hot bed of terrorism and instability for the past several decades. Advancing democratic norms and helping to cultivate a culture that better respects human rights will undoubtedly provide a boon to regional stability and boost counter-terrorism efforts in both the short and long term.

Fadumo Dayib is unquestionably a change agent in Somali society, and embodies the type of visionary leader that Vanguard Africa will seek to support. Currently, our staff is working to improve Fadumo’s international profile through strategic advocacy and outreach, including to prominent media outlets. Importantly, we are also working to bolster her personal security, which will be paramount while she campaigns for the presidency in Somalia.

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