Senegal’s capital, Dakar, has made a mark in history as one of the cities to get its first ever female mayor since its independence.
Soham El Wardini has become the first woman in post-independent Senegal to hold the post.
Before this, she was the deputy mayor under embattled Khalifa Sall who has been in jail since 2017 over corruption and embezzlement- charges he has since denied.
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El Wardini won 64 votes against Moussa Sy and Banda Diop who garnered 11 and 13 votes respectively.
“I am proud to be the first female mayor of the Senegalese capital,” she said once the results were announced, adding that she is keen to see all the projects underway completed.
“The teams will remain unchanged. We will finish the projects started. The key is to get back to work and stay united. I assure you that the fight continues.”
El Wardini served as deputy mayor since 2014 and will have the chance to run for her first term as mayor in the upcoming municipal elections.
Born in 1953 in Latmingué, El Wardini and her family moved to Kaolack after the death of her father. She finished her high school in the town and became a teacher upon completing her graduate studies.
Her venture into politics started back in 1999 when she joined the Alliance of Forces of Progress party and later after it split, she joined Khalifa Sall’s faction. She rose to the ranks of deputy mayor and has been acting as the mayor in Sall’s absence. Her mission is to make sure that Senegal’s biggest city is clean.
“I do not want Dakar to be named one of the dirtiest cities in the world. It deserves all the sacrifices,” she said.
Before getting into politics, El Wardini was Miss Senegal in 1970.
Her election as mayor has been welcomed by many including Sall’s supporters. Her family has also welcomed the victory.
“It is primarily for her community that she chose to play politics. She has always shown a strong civic commitment. It is solicited everywhere, in all organizations, even religious. Since she is very small, she represents the family. And even today we see her as a mother, patient and educated,” says Antoine El Wardini, her brother, former colonel of the Senegalese army.
El Wardini is not the only female mayor in Africa cities. In March 2018, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr became Freetown’s first female mayor in three decades. The last time Freetown had a female mayor was from 1977 to 1980 when Dr. June Holst-Roness held the title. Aki-Sawyerr amassed over 309,000 votes against Raymond Desouza George who received 167,000 or 32.36 per cent of votes. She also beat other four male candidates.
In May, Rohey Malick Lowe made waves in the Gambia when she became the mayor of Banjul, making her the first woman in the West African country to hold the post.
A few weeks later Rwanda voted in a new mayor for Kigali: Marie-Chantal Rwakazina. She vied for the post following the resignation of former mayor Pascal Nyamurinda in April and gained 146 votes against the eight votes garnered by her only opponent, Henriette Murekatete. Rwakazina is the fourth female mayor of the city after Rose Kabuye, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira and Monique Mukaruliza.