Astrid Lane

July 30, 2021

The AEC and International IDEA Combine to Offer a Virtual Strategic Planning Module to PIANZEA

Based on a request from the PIANZEA (Pacific Island, Australian and New Zealand Electoral Administrators’ Network) Advisory group, a DFAT funded, four-day, Virtual BRIDGE Strategic Planning Module was conducted for 6 members of the network. Participants from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Kiribati and Tonga attended. The workshop was conducted for four hours each day on the 27th and 28th of May and the 3rd and 4th of June, 2021. The group was very lucky to have Antonio Spinelli of International IDEA – author of the IFES Guide Strategic Planning for Effective Electoral Management, a seminal text on Strategic Planning in elections and the primary document on which the Version 3 module is based – as a key expert throughout the workshop The BRIDGE facilitation team was made up of Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) officers Sara Staino and Ross Attrill – both Accrediting Facilitators – and Darren McNair who was completing his workshop accreditation. Again, we were ably assisted by our AEC colleagues from the Community and International Engagement team who dealt with all the technical and administrative issues extremely well. It made the facilitation team’s job so much easier, particularly considering the virtual setting of the workshop. All of the participants were senior members of their respective EMBs. Most of them already had strategic plans in place for their organisations but there was one that was about to embark on the process of developing a strategic plan for the first time. The module itself is now divided into “theoretical” and “practical” sections and it was decided, due to time constraints, to focus on the theoretical section to enable those new to the process to gain an understanding of all its elements and for those already in a strategic planning process to have the opportunity to assess where the process was in their particular context and realistically consider how to go about it. This time around we opted for two half days in consecutive weeks as the last virtual module conducted for the network was conducted across one week and most found tiring working virtually for so many days in a row. All agreed that the format used in this module worked better. It also allowed those with connectivity problems a week to rectify them between the 2nd and 3rd days. All found the workshop to be of great use and very engaging, although the facilitators felt that we had not quite created the sought of “fun” space that face to face BRIDGE workshops offer. Darren McNair did a wonderful job and both Sara and Ross agreed he should be given his “workshop” accreditation. The following is Darren’s description of that process. “I’ve thought very highly of BRIDGE since attending my first BRIDGE course back in 2011. The engaging nature of the content and the way it is delivered really piqued my interest and I knew I wanted to be involved in BRIDGE in the future. After completing my BRIDGE Train the Facilitator Workshop in early 2019, I was excited to be able to finally get the chance to take the next step to becoming an Accredited Workshop Facilitator. And then Covid19 came. I thought that any chance I had of obtaining my Workshop Accreditation in the next few years were dashed. However, like many things in the Covid environment, BRIDGE has learnt to adapt, and has done so by moving to an online virtual delivery model. While BRIDGE is designed to be delivered in person, our facilitation team adapted and created ways to keep the participants as engaged as possible in the virtual environment. We were lucky enough to have a world renowned expert on Strategic Management, Antonio Spinelli, deliver and support many of the technical aspects of the training, which allowed me to concentrate on creating and running the group activities to reinforce the participant’s learnings. I was also expertly supported by my fellow facilitators, both very experienced BRIDGE facilitators, which made my job easier as I knew I was in good hands. Participants were open and honest about strategic planning in their respective EMB’s, which allowed them to get the most out of the sessions. We also had the Fijian Elections Office provide an excellent presentation on their strategic planning process, which really helped participants solidify what they had learnt over the 4 days. That’s not to say that we didn’t face any challenges over the four days. With our participants coming from various countries around the Pacific, internet connectivity for some participants was patchy at best, requiring us to think on our feet as to how we could ensure that all were able to participate. This included one participant only being able to communicate through the chat function, however it was clear from their interaction that they were still able to understand and follow the sessions. While my first time facilitating a BRIDGE module wasn’t as I thought it would be when I completed my TtF, it was still an amazing experience to be part of a BRIDGE facilitation team and to meet some of our close neighbours from the Pacific.” Darren has summed it up beautifully. While we are still learning how to use the virtual space effectively, this was a worthwhile experience for everyone involved and a great way to ensure that the PIANZEA secretariat keeps providing its member states with what they request. Ross Attrill July 2021 […]
March 15, 2021

Promoting inclusive civic education and voter information in Mexico

An online BRIDGE workshop on civic education, voter information and access to the electoral process took place in Mexico from 23 to 25 February 2021. It was organized by the UNDP Country Office in Mexico and the National Electoral Institute (INE), with the support of the UNDP Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean.
February 25, 2021

Voter Registration for Regional Officers in The Gambia

The Gambia is due to undertake a new voter registration exercise in 2021, in the foreseeable months. While the actual dates are not yet known, IFES has been working closely with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in their preparations for the voter registration process. With this electoral process in mind, IFES worked with the IEC to train 24 regional electoral officers from across the entire country along with headquarters senior officials to prepare them for the voter registration at the Paradise Hotel in Banjul. A 3-day BRIDGE workshop (15 to 17 Feb) combined voter registration activities from multiple modules to cater for the local needs. An agenda drawing from the operations planning, gender, inclusion, voter and civic education modules were linked to the core voter registration module for the three days. This builds on an earlier workshop that was conducted in March 2020, which covered more basic elements of voter registration. The event also presented an opportunity for the draft voter registration operations plan to be discussed and implementation aspects to be detailed via the training. While the original workshop was planned as a blend of virtual and in-classroom facilitation, a last-minute change resulted in the training being facilitated entirely virtually. With a multi-camera setup, along with in-class microphones in Banjul, the facilitator; based in Washington DC, was able to facilitate the entire event remotely and in conjunction with a few in-class assistants and one online support staffer daily. The training was conducted via Zoom, with the active usage of Mentimenter for expectations, quick quizzes to gauge understanding and end of day reflections. While power-outages routinely interrupted training on a daily basis, these were not too disruptive; being less than 5 minutes in nature, and the internet was very stable throughout the training. US-based technical support proved invaluable when technical challenges required troubleshooting and served as a valuable backup for any Banjul-based technical issues. On the ground support from the IFES country representative, along with the camera-crew, additional technical support from the USA and enthusiastic IEC staff participation made the training very memorable for all. Participants were extremely enthusiastic throughout the training and very engaged and participatory. Small group work was particularly rewarding, and the training provided a valuable opportunity to strengthen not only skill-levels of voter registration, but also the relationship between headquarters and regional staff. Participants were particularly focused on discussing how best to increase participation of marginalized voters, along with the training of registration officials, quality assurance, risk management and evidence-based planning. The participation of the Chairperson, individual Commissioners and the CEO of the IEC contributed to the success of the training. Of significant benefit was the ability for regional officers to discuss the challenges that emerge when implementing operational plans in the field and adaptations. Participants left the training excited about how they will be applying their new-found lessons to the voter registration exercise in the field. -Rushdi Nackerdien […]
December 7, 2020

Malawi Election Commission (MEC) conduct Boundary Delimitation Modular course for its Commissioners and Management

With support from the Development Partners through the basket fund, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) organized a 5 day BRIDGE Boundary Delimitation course from 23-27 October 2020 for its commissioners and senior staff management  in Mzuzu, Malawi. Opening the workshop, Commissioner Olivia Mchanju Liwewe, who is Chairperson of the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, said the Commission was committed to develop capacity of its personnel  in various dimensions. “It is in the same vein that we approached our Development Partners to support this training. The rationale is for the Commission to have a pool of BRIDGE facilitators so that we should be able to conduct several BRIDGE courses parallel to each other. “In elections management, time is of essence and with a good number of qualified facilitators we will be able to accomplish much of our activities within a short time,” she said. Commissioner Liwewe urged the participants to pay full attention to the training so that at the end they should also qualify to be recommended for accreditation. In his remarks before the official opening, MEC Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Phanuel Hamsin hailed the BRIDGE curricula as the most comprehensive  in the world in regard to elections training. An international BRIDGE facilitator, worked with a team of four MEC facilitators to deliver the module. The other four facilitators from the Malawi Electoral Commission were Lydia Bridget Luwanika, Muhabi Chisi, Thandiwe Bless Zimba and Sammy Ng’anjo. This is the third BRIDGE course to be organised by the Malawi Electoral Commission in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen many organisations put activities on hold. The first BRIDGE workshop on Introduction to Electoral Administration was organised in July 2020 for the Commissioners who had just been appointed in May this year, the second BRIDGE on TtF course was organised in October 2020. At the end of the 5 days, it was time for all the 26 participants to get their certificates in the presence of Chief Elections Officer, Mr Sammy Alfandika. In his closing remarks, the CEO advised the participants to continue reading on the BRIDGE Boundary Delimitation module so that they do not lose the knowledge gained as we are currently preparing for boundary delimitation process in Malawi to begin early 2021. The Commissioner and CEO also thanked the Development. Partners that have funded the BRIDGE Course through the basket fund managed by the UNDP in the name of UNDP, EU, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) UK, Irish Aid and USAID. “The Commission appreciates that the Development Partners have committed to supporting the Commission throughout the electoral cycle” he said. A representative of the participants, Mr Edington Chilapondwa thanked the Commission for allowing them attend the BRIDGE course which was a life time opportunity. By Lydia Bridget Luwanika […]
December 7, 2020

Innovative blended learning approach for Gender Equality and Elections modular workshop in Ethiopia

UN Women Ethiopia organized a 2.5 days BRIDGE workshop on Gender Equality and Elections during 25-27 November, 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop was led by BRIDGE facilitators Anastasiia Matviienko (Ukraine) and Natia Kashakashvili (Georgia). The objective of the workshop was to build the capacities of various stakeholders and aware them on how to make the electoral cycle gender sensitive/responsive and enhance women’s political and civic participation. In total, 18 representatives of CSOs, governmental institutions, academia and UN Women staff (working on electoral matters) have participated in the workshop. The workshop was opened by UN Women Deputy Representative in Ethiopia, Anna Parini, stressing on the importance of continued cooperation with the various gender equality stakeholders. This BRIDGE workshop’s blended learning modality was first of its kind for – applying online interactive training approach to the participants who were physically convened at a training room. BRIDGE facilitators were supported by UN Women staff who provided technical management of the participants, as well as the technical support to arrange online interaction of the BRIDGE facilitators with the participants in plenary and during the group-works. The workshop agenda was designed in order to meet objectives of the workshop, with the particular focus on addressing Gender Inequalities throughout the Electoral Cycle. The workshop conduct with the innovative blended learning modality was extremely successful as the participants were very actively engaging in the group-works, brainstorming, sharing experiences and presenting the ideas/group-work results in plenary. BRIDGE facilitators have managed to conduct several classic BRIDGE-style activities (in comparison to the activities that are difficult to run or have less impact during the conduct of online workshops) that resulted in more understanding, interaction and creation of the friendly atmosphere amongst the participants. At the end of the workshop, with the help of UN Women staff, participants were granted certificates with facilitators’ e-signatures. […]
November 30, 2020

UNDP Zimbabwe TtF Part 2: 12-20 November

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with assistance from the local office of the UNDP and the European Union successfully conducted a BRIDGE Train the Facilitator workshop as a way to respond to the need to strengthen the capacity of the election management body and increase the number of BRIDGE accredited trainers within the organisation. Trainees consisted of 20 electoral staff members from across the 10 provinces of the country. Ross Attrill, the Expert Facilitator from Australia was set to lead the training alongside Utloile Silaigwana, the Accrediting Facilitator, Rejoice Sibanda, then workshop facilitator but now Accrediting Facilitator and Shamiso Chahuruva, the Workshop Facilitator, all from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The way the Zimbabwe TtF was conducted was a first of its kind in the history of BRIDGE as it was the first time that TtF had to be halted midway before the completion of the programme and reconvened eight months later making it the longest TtF training in the history of BRIDGE!! The training was intended to run from 23 March 2020 to 3 April, 2020 but the global coronavirus pandemic scuttled the plans for the conduct of this all important workshop within the initial time frame. The TtF was reconvened on 12 November 2020 with a 3 day refresher programme and was completed on 20 November 2020. It is important to note that while participants were apart as a result of supervening impossibilities, the bonds that they had formed within that first week of training were not lost but kept intact through the formation of a social whatsApp group where they continued to interact and support each through what was a most difficult period for all people across the globe. The facilitating team, also kept communication lines open to facilitate continuous consultations with Mr Ross, who still could not travel to Zimbabwe because of the continued travelling restrictions. This training was a great success and after successful completion of the Course, participants received certificates as reward to hard work. Brief description The course was based on the BRIDGE capacity building curriculum which is specifically designed to improve the skills and knowledge of election administrators in Zimbabwe as the country’s initial preparations for 2023 General Harmonised Elections. This was also in line with the EMB’s 2021- 2024 Strategic Plan whose first Output is “Strengthening Institutional Capacity of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to meet its Constitutional mandate and ensure sustainability”. Training was conducted by an Accrediting BRIDGE Facilitator assisted by workshop Facilitators with support from a BRIDGE Expert, Mr Ross Atrill. The TtF sought to develop facilitators in the EMB with the view to strengthen its capacity by professionally skilling its pool of election administrators. The overall aim was to achieve effective sustainable election administration through increasing the capacity of the EMB staff. BRIDGE as the most comprehensive professional development course available in election administration was the best choice for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. By selecting different levels of staff ZEC seeks to close the gap of skills deficiency noted in different levels through a UN Needs Assessment Mission carried out in Zimbabwe during the beginning of 2020 […]
September 25, 2020

Gender equality and Elections BRIDGE workshop – Cairo, Egypt – March, May (Online) 2020

The UNDP in partnership with the League of Arab States implemented a five-day BRIDGE workshop on “Gender equality and Elections”. The workshop took place in the Intercontinental city starts hotel in Cairo – Egypt between March 8-11, and May 18-19, 2020. Nineteen participants from the LAS staff participated in the five-day training course. eleven of them were women. The facilitation team comprised five BRIDGE facilitators who participated in the preparation and delivery of this workshop, one of them was a TtF complete facilitator and two were women. By the end of the workshop, the TtF complete facilitator obtained his accreditation as BRIDGE workshop facilitators . The workshop aimed at raising awareness regarding the importance of women’s participation in elections, increasing knowledge regarding women’s role in the different phases of the Electoral process as well as identifying the challenges women face during elections. It also explored strategies to increase women’s presence in political life, tackled the issue of Electoral Observation from a Gender perspective, identified gender international obligations for elections and analysed different electoral systems and their effect on women’s representation. As a result of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, the last day of the training was postponed. It was conducted two months later by the Zoom application, to be one of the first BRIDGE online training that took place on May 18 – 19, 2020. By the end of the workshop, most of the participants recommended to have more BRIDGE trainings in the future, as it contributes effectively in building their capacities as election observers and it increases their knowledge regarding the different aspects of the electoral process. […]

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