21 Bouganvilleans get International Accreditation as Elections and Gender Facilitators

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The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) ends the first BRIDGE

(UN WOMEN: Buka, Bouganville) The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) ends the first BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections) Train the Facilitator’s (TtF) workshop with a Gender and Elections focus in Buka, Bouganville for two weeks intensive training module.

The Regional BRIDGE TtF workshop puts elections in the context of governance and democracy. The United Nations Award winning course is the most comprehensive professional development course available in election administration in the world.

This training is aimed at increasing national capacity in advancing women’s leadership. It will seek to develop the ability, comprehension, and confidence both of election professionals and of relevant national audiences such as members of the media, political parties, parliamentarians, electoral observers and civil society organizations.

Following this training, the 21 participants will be able to train using the BRIDGE methodology. It creates a pool of qualified and skilled trainers to be able to multiply knowledge, which will help to gender sensitise Bouganvilleans and the rest of Papua New Guinea to promote leadership as a shared responsibility for both men and women.

The workshop is an effort by UN Women towards building the capacity of Pacific women to eventually become a stronger group of trained and certified trainers from Pacific countries with a background in gender and good governance. Similar workshops have been planned for other Papua New Guinea regions as well the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. 

These participants are from the provincial and local level including stakeholders from the Non Governmental Organisations, political protégés, National Women’s Machinery, provincial trainers, women leaders and government representatives. 

UN Women’s Gender Equality in Political Governance programme (GEPG) Bougainville Office Coordinator, Agnes Titus says that the group as multipliers of knowledge, their training will go a long way in helping women’s leadership and participation in Bouganville.

“UN Women will be working with them as key stakeholders in Bougainville so that they can actively contribute to achieving women’s increased representation in politics and strengthen women’s capacity to become more active citizens and leaders.”

“Bougainville already has three reserved seats for women, which is positive for the region as their contribution is already making a difference. There is still room for more women in the Bouganville parliament because we have a lot of capable hands.”

“Bougainville aims to set example not only for Papua New Guinea but also for the Pacific region as a whole in its attempt to put more women in the highest level of leadership.”

Papua New Guinea’s national parliament on the other hand only 0.9 per cent of the parliament is made up of women. Minister for Community Affairs and Women’s Desk, Dame Carol Kidu – and only woman represented in the 109 seat national parliament – has been discussing options such as Temporary Special Measures to increase women’s representation in the political sphere for long.

Since 2010, the bill on reserved seat for women has been pushed by Dame Kidu to ensure one women seat is reserved in the national parliament. The bill will be tabled in parliament later this month after which a vote would to taken to pass the bill. 

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, Temporary Special Measurers such as reserved seats are an efficient method to increase women’s representation.

GEPG Deputy Regional Programme Manager Jeanette Bolenga says the participants in the workshop have a keen interest in promoting gender equality in all spheres especially in political leadership.

“We have equal participation of both men and women at the workshop which is a positive indication that men as much as women are interested in gender equality. The workshop is 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 them to reflect on the electoral system used in Papua New Guinea and will equip them with the skill to develop strategies that help to overcome the various obstacles that women face when entering politics.”

The workshop aims to help the participants engage in training relevant national audiences including women’s groups, government, political parties and electoral officials with the aim to increase national capacity of key players supporting women’s political participation and representation at all levels of legislature.

The graduates of the workshop will be qualified to design training programs and customise modules for their organizations and various audiences as part of their training program.

The GEPG Programme is a 5 years initiative co-funded by AusAID under its Pacific Leadership Programme. The programme aims to 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.

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