Men and women who participated in a three-day BRIDGE Gender and Elections Module had never thought that a workshop as such would even begin to change their thinking towards women’s issues in particular supporting women to national level and local level leadership.
(quotes – unedited)
“After watching the documentary on ‘The Iron Ladies of
“As a representative from the outer island I come to a conclusion to agree that women have equal qualities to work as a man. I have not known all of these qualities of work that women have until I got into the crowd here to study these presentations”…. said another male participant from Uotje Atoll…..
These were the sentiments at the conclusion of the workshop held 23-26 November at the International Convention Centre in Majuro, Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), which is located in the northern Pacific with a population of around 60,000. The Republic has more than 24 Atolls and islands, all flat and low lying, on which people live. Many of these islands are served by either a village or local council. The Republic has a President and ministers as well as senators. It is a matrilineal society where women are the land owners or chiefs together with men having chiefly status as well. English is their second language.
Sixteen women and eleven men were the amongst the first to attend a Gender and Elections Module held in RMI, although five others had attended a similar workshop held in Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in 2009. Among the 27 were one each participants from FSM and
The workshop was organized by Women United Together in Marshall Islands (WUTMI) and as part of its annual Conference with the theme Gender and was supported by Gender Equality in Political Governance Program (GEPG) of UNIFEM Pacific as well as UNIFEM Zealand. The Government of RMI also supported by sending participants from the Elections Office to attend the workshop.
Some of the immediate outcomes of the workshop include:
Various female guest speakers were able to share their experiences in way of being a candidate (losing and winning as well as intending); having served as a Senator as well current voter education programs being undertaken by WUTMI. Another guest speaker shared her research work into the Issue of Gender Imbalance and Inequality in Parliament and recommendations.
The workshop was facilitated by Hamidan Bibi (Lead Facilitator) and Sadhana Sen (co-facilitator on behalf of GEPG UNIFEM Pacific.