The UN Women’s Gender Equality in Political Governance (GEPG) programme held an Electoral Systems and Gender workshop from 5th – 9th September 2011 for Electoral Management Body (EMB) and stakeholders in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
The Electoral Systems and Gender workshop was conducted in partnership with the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) and the Women in Shared Decision Making (WISDM) working group. The aims of the workshop were to introduce the BRIDGE project as a capacity building course for all relevant stakeholders including law makers, decision makers and development partners, empower stakeholders toward an understanding of electoral systems and how this can affect representation, and to introduce UN Women Gender Equality in Political Governance (GEPG) Project and its mandate to assist Pacific Governments to implement their commitments to international conventions such as CEDAW-the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The opening of the workshop was graced by the Honorable Speaker of Parliament, Sir Allan Kemakeza who is also the current Chairperson and Commissioner for the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission. In his key note address, the Honorable Speaker highlighted the government’s support towards electoral reform and sees the workshop as timely in taking the discussions further through awareness rising on the different electoral systems and their impact on representation. He also emphasized the need for gender equality in the whole process which has been long denied.
Participants attending the workshop were mostly Election Officials from past elections including election managers, returning officers, polling officials and registration officers from the ten provinces in Solomon Islands (including the capital, Honiara). There were also participants from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, senior public servants from the relevant line Ministries and gender advocates representing international and local organizations.
Here is what some participants say about the five days workshop:
“it was very effective because I learnt a lot about different but commonly used electoral systems around the world and how they produce different results/outcomes in terms of fairness in relation to gender and representation which is new and interesting to me”
“this workshop has broadened my knowledge and understanding on electoral systems and I think it has equipped me enough to be able to contribute to the OSIEC agenda for reform to the current electoral system that Solomon Islands is currently using and help decide on which system can address the problem of unfairness and gender issues in Solomon Islands politics in a gradual manner”
“the workshop was really nice and valuable to us. I have learnt many things than I’ve expected from the workshop and I am looking forward to attend more of upcoming BRIDGE workshops that are elections related”
The facilitators for the workshop were Mr Francis Iro and Mr Roderick Kidoe from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, Mr Milligan Pina from the Isabel Provincial Government and Ms Audrey Manu from UN Women.
UN Women’s Gender Equality in Political Governance (GEPG) Programme is a five year programme and is committed to delivering its capacity building activities using BRIDGE methodology to assist women and relevant stakeholders.