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Practice Parliament for Women Who Want to Run for Office

Practice Parliament for Women Who Want to Run for Office

Apia, 19th of January – As part of the Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS) Programme, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women in partnership with the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly (OCLA), are organising a Practice Parliament to support women candidates in their efforts to get elected to the National Parliament in the March elections.

The Practice Parliament will take place this Wednesday at the Faleata Sports Complex, Tuanaimato, from 8:00am to 2:30pm. Programme includes a debate for the introduction of a Practice Bill and then a question time session with the Honorable Speaker, Laauli Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt.

Since August of last year, UNDP and UN Women have organised many training sessions for potential candidates as well as journalists, NGOs and political parties. Nineteen women from Upolu and Savai’i have benefitted from the training and learning about political processes and parliamentary procedures.

For the last few months, women have strengthened their capacities in a variety of topics such as how to communicate and engage with voters through the use of different media, how to plan and run a successful election campaign and how to become a good parliamentarian by providing services to the constituents after the election and debating on the role that MPs should have in the national budget process.

Formative sessions have been facilitated by Elizabeth Weir, a senior international parliamentary expert, Canadian born, with extensive experience in training parliamentarians, political party activists and candidates in many countries of the world.

On December 3rd, UNDP and UN Women also launched a handbook titled: “Building Blocks of Gender Equality.” The publication identifies targeted interventions for promoting the stronger presence and influence of women in political parties as well as advancing gender equality issues in party policies and platforms.

The Pacific has the world’s lowest rates of women in parliament – an average of just 5.5 per cent – and this is also reflected in Samoa. Just three women are currently in parliament, which means Samoa ranks 126 out of 138 countries; in the 2011 election, just eight of the 162 candidates were women.

“Making gender equality and political participation a reality is a core commitment of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women. UNDP has previously conducted Mock Parliaments for Women in Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tonga but this is the first Practice Parliament ever for women in Samoa and we look forward to seeing the results of the work done in the last months.” – said Gatoloai Tili Afamasaga, IPPWS Coordinator.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS) Programme

The Increased Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS) is a joint programme between UN Women and UNDP, in partnership with the Government of Samoa and the Australian Government. It was launched in March 2015 and works across the following main areas: (1) facilitating space for discussion and awareness at a community level on the importance of women’s participation in politics, gender equality and good governance; (2) building the capacity of women in parliamentary processes and procedures in preparation for the elections; (3) working with political parties by making information and analysis available as well as strengthening internal governance processes to support women candidates, gender equality and women’s rights; (4) providing post-election mentoring support to all members of parliament on activities including responsive budgeting and the preparation of gender-sensitive legislation.

ENDS

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