Senegal’s first woman presidential candidate aims for development, gender equity in leadership

Anta Babacar Ngom becomes sole woman eligible to compete in Senegal's presidential race

Anta Babacar Ngom, the first woman to run for Senegal’s presidency, wants to put the country on the path for industrialization and introduce a fairer candidacy system for women in the country’s leadership race.

Six women had been among the 93 presidential hopefuls who applied to compete for the top office in the West African nation’s upcoming presidential election on March 24.

Only 20 made it to the final list with the approval of the Constitutional Council, with the number of women candidates falling to two, Ngom and Rose Wardini.

But Wardini’s candidacy was later dropped due to her French citizenship, leaving Ngom as the only woman in the race.

Ngom, the daughter of Senegalese businessman Babacar Ngom, has been known as an “industry leader” since 2016 as the CEO of Sedima, a major poultry company in the West African nation.

Speaking to Anadolu, she discussed her election projects, the role of women in politics in Senegal, and the postponed presidential election.

Aspiring to lead country

Ngom emphasized the need for a new face in Senegalese politics, highlighting the necessity for young people and women.

She stressed that she is not interested in pursuing a long-term political career with roles like mayor or member of parliament, but sought to become president with her top priority being to foster national unity.

Pointing to her business experience, she expressed her ambition for the presidency and leading the country.

Flagbearer for Senegalese women

Ngom stressed the importance of restructuring the economy and achieving sustainable development, aiming to fully utilize Senegal’s potential through large-scale industrialization, supporting sectors like fishing, agriculture, livestock, and tourism.

She further emphasized strengthening the private sector, which acts as “a bridge between the government and the people.”

Emphasizing commitment to environmental protection, education, and public health, she said: “As the only female presidential candidate, I represent Senegalese women.”

“Establishing a national women’s bank to support their economic independence is one of our key projects,” she added

Hurdles for female candidates

Ngom highlighted women’s “significant impact in Senegal” but lamented that many have been unable to run for the presidency.

Emphasizing the need for fairer candidacy conditions, she said the requirement to gather tens of thousands of signatures was a major obstacle for many women.

She said: “We’ve had women lawmakers, ministers, and even a prime minister. Moreover, Islam supports women in this regard. So why not have a woman president?”

“For the first time, a woman managed to gather enough signatures. We need to reflect on why women have not been able to participate sufficiently in the presidential candidacy process. We must make the candidacy system more fair and inclusive,” she added.

Elections delayed

Ngom highlighted the “uncertainty” caused by sitting President Macky Sall’s postponement of the presidential election previously scheduled for Feb. 25.

“This postponement was absolutely unnecessary. In my opinion, the delay holds the voting rights of the Senegalese people hostage. No one knows what President Macky Sall has in mind,” she said.

Noting that she had supported Sall’s election campaign in 2012, Ngom said he was “supposed to be the first president born after independence, and the youth had a lot of confidence in him.

“I quit my job at that time to work on his campaign, and the day after he was elected, I returned to work … I had no ambition for political advancement. But today, I no longer recognize the candidate I supported back then.”

Sall said last month that he will step down when his mandate as president ends on April 2.

The president, who has been in power since 2012, announced the indefinite suspension of the Feb. 25 presidential election on Feb. 3, citing a dispute over the candidate list and alleged corruption of constitutional judges, triggering political chaos in which three people were killed.

The National Assembly then passed a bill postponing the vote until Dec. 15 as security forces stormed the building and removed some opposition lawmakers.

But the Senegalese Constitutional Council declared the law postponing the country’s presidential vote to December “unconstitutional” and annulled his decree to delay the poll.


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