Designation: Vice President
Isatou Touray (March 17, 1955) is a Gambian politician, social reformer, and activist. She was a vocal opponent of female genital mutilation and ran for President of the Gambia in 2016 but dropped out to endorse Adama Barrow and Coalition 2016.
Touray was born in Bathurst, Gambia’s Colony. She grew up in Bathurst, which was renamed Banjul in 1975, at 44 Grant Street. She was a standout athlete at Crab Island Secondary Technical School throughout her time there.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in education and English from Usman Danfodiyo University in Nigeria. She went on to study development studies at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Netherlands, where she earned a master’s degree. She has also earned a Ph.D. in development studies from the University of Sussex’s Institute of Development Studies.
In 1984, Touray co-founded the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), dedicated to abolishing female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite official constraints on reporting on the topic, she became executive director of GAMCOTRAP and repeatedly called on lawmakers to abolish FGM. She also served as the deputy director of the Management Development Institute (MDI), where she established a gender and development division.
On September 2, 2016, Touray announced that she would run as an Independent candidate in the 2016 presidential election. She became Gambia’s first female presidential candidate. On February 1, 2017, Touray was appointed to Adama Barrow’s Cabinet as Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, and Employment. She was appointed Minister of Health and Social Welfare in a July 2018 reshuffle.
Touray is married to Dr. Alhaji Malang Touray, a physician. They have four children and three grandchildren. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the 2017 Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick Award from the Women’s Democracy Network.
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