Speaker, Parliament of The Gambia.
First woman lawyer in The Gambia.

Mariam Jack-Denton

I went to law school at a time the legal profession was perceived to be for only men. With perseverance, dedication, and determination, I defied the odds and became the first Gambian woman to be called to the bar. With hard work and commitment, despite the trappings of patriarchy both in society and the legal profession, I opened the gate for more women to join the legal profession. I rose through the ranks to the position of Principal State Counsel and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and established the Legal Unit of the Central Bank of The Gambia. I have also been actively involved in politics for the sole purpose of enhancing democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights as guaranteed in Gambia's Constitution. I fought against political tyranny and pro-military dictatorship in The Gambia, a struggle which earned me some 111 days incommunicado detention. I successfully challenged my detention, and the court ruled in my favour that my continued detention was illegal and subsequently ordered my release.

Today, I am the first woman Speaker of the National Assembly with a degree in law. My advice to young women in law is to be committed to your course and develop high self-esteem. Do not allow the trappings of patriarchy to diminish your potential to achieve your objectives in life. To be accomplished as a woman in this world is an uphill struggle, but our young women should be equal to the challenge. Work hard, strive for excellence, and prove to society and yourself that when women are given a chance, we can do twice as good as men.

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Institute for African Women in Law (c) All rights reserved.