UNEAD, UNDP and The Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in cooperation with The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) have organized BRIDGE workshop on Gender and Elections. The workshop was held during 10-12 October, 2017 at SESRIC headquarters, in Ankara, Turkey.
The workshop was attended by participants from OIC Secretariat staff, representatives of different stakeholders of OIC member states, EAD and UNDP. Representatives from regional organizations such as the African Union, League of Arab States, Arab Electoral Management Bodies, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Union were also invited to serve as resource persons and share experiences from their respective regions and organizations.
The objective of the training was to create a venue for sharing experiences and good practices on how best to promote the participation of women in electoral and political processes and their representation in elected bodies.
The workshop was led by BRIDGE facilitators Shalva Tskhakaya and Natia Kashakashvili. The workshop was inaugurated officially by the SESRIC General Director – Amb. Musa Kulaklikaya, OIC Head of Election Observation Unit - Amb. Nuria Abdullah Al-Hamami and UN EAD Team Leader for strategic partnerships – Mr. Mansour Sadeghi.
The workshop agenda concentrated on the gender mainstreaming interventions focusing on three categories: women as voters, women as candidates and women as polling staff.
Due to the audience with diverse level of electoral experience, the curriculum was designed to allow participants to get introduction of the electoral processes and discuss the gender issues in parallel of the electoral process; i.e. electoral systems were simulated while participants were asked to analyze whether the system encourages representation of women. Different Levels of legal instruments protecting women’s political and electoral rights, where also discussed during the workshop.
Additional time slot was dedicated to the representatives of each regional organizations acting as resource persons to introduce gender mainstreaming practices implemented within their respective organizations and best practices in the regions.
The workshop served as a strategic partnership and team building activity for various regional organizations. Two social events were incorporated into the program to encourage informal interactions among representatives of various organizations.
Participants throughout the workshop have expressed interest and actively engaged in all the activities. It must be noted that BRIDGE methodology was novelty for this audience; in some cases, participants wanted to hear the conclusion and evaluation of the gender issues from the facilitators in regards to their countries; though participants were reminded of the BRIDGE approaches and they have soon adapted to this approach and style of the facilitation. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
While the workshop has met is objectives, it is important to build on the achievements of the workshop. Several suggestions were made to achieve large scale impact. Despite obvious progress, women political participation remains key issue for OIC member states. Many more OIC member state representatives can benefit from the already existing curriculum and training materials.