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Gender and Election BRIDGE Workshop

UNIFEM PRO: Gender and Election BRIDGE Workshop to kick off today in Honiara

UNIFEM, Honiara - The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM Pacific Regional Office) will start a week-long workshop on Gender and Elections in Honiara, Solomon Islands today.

The Regional BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) workshop puts elections in context of governance and democracy. It is the most comprehensive professional development course available in election administration. It improves the skills, knowledge, and confidence both of election professionals and of others in the electoral process, such as members of the media, political parties and parliamentarians, electoral observers and civil society organizations.

This BRIDGE course is the first of its kind by focusing particularly on gender issues in the Solomon Islands. It is in response to the needs identified by Women in Shared Decision Making (WISDM) working group for support to increasing women’s political participation and representation, as well as supporting the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The 40 participants are both from the provincial and national level (Honiara) and represent stakeholders like NGOs, Faith-based organizations, National Women’s Machinery, Community Based Organisations, youths, provincial trainers, women leaders and government.

UNIFEM Solomon Islands National Coordinator for the “Gender Equality in Political Governance Programme”, Audrey Manu says the objective of the training workshop is to help participants understand why women’s participation in elections is important and how to improve it.

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“The workshop aims to help women’s advocacy groups understand the electoral process and develop strategies to promote women’s participation”.

The workshop will be an occasion for all participants to learn about the principles of electoral issues in general and how they affect women’s representation in particular. It will enable participants to reflect on the electoral system used in their country and will equip them with the skill to develop strategies that help to overcome the various obstacles that women face when entering politics.

“UNIFEM is looking forward to working with the participants in the future as key stakeholders that can actively contribute to achieving women’s increased representation in politics and strengthen women’s capacity to become more active citizens and leaders," says Manu.

Considering that gender equality is a fundamental right and is essential for successful economic and social development of a nation, this BRIDGE workshop will present participants with options for increasing women’s access to and representation in politics.

Manu says, the workshop "will also provide tools for all participants to look at elections from a gender perspective and is also a networking opportunity for women’s advocacy groups".

Over the past decades some progress in terms of women’s political representation at national parliamentary levels was achieved across the Pacific region. However, women remain greatly underrepresented in high-level decision making positions and in order to achieve the so called “critical mass” of 30% representation of either gender, yet alone full gender equality in decision making, there is much more work to be done.

The workshop ends on Friday 27th November.

UNIFEM’s GEPG Programme is a 5 years initiative co-funded by AusAID under its Pacific Leadership Programme (PLP). The programme will contribute to advancing gender equality in political governance in the Pacific region at both national and local levels with the main purpose of increasing the participation of women as active citizens and leaders. (Ends)


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