The Independent Electoral Commission of Lesotho (IEC) organised a BRIDGE Gender and Elections Module course from 30 May to 03 June 2016 at AVANI Lesotho Hotel in Maseru for senior staff of the commission and Gender Advocacy organisations. The purpose of the workshop was to enable the staff of the Commission to identify barriers women face in fully accessing the electoral processes, identify areas of improvement and discuss and recommend the necessary mechanisms to ensure participation of women. This was also a great opportunity to discuss matters for consideration and incorporation of gender issues in the IEC’s operational and strategic plan. The course served as enlightenment and assisted IEC staff to establish a common understanding on the issues of gender and elections.
The overall objective of this course was to provide capacity development for IEC senior staff particularly for incorporation of Gender issues into long term strategic plan and short term election operational plan as well as its educational programmes. The training created awareness on gender issues in the electoral process and equipped the IEC staff with knowledge and skills on gender and elections. It was also aimed at enabling IEC senior staff to promote gender equality in the management of all electoral processes.
The course content included democracy, governance and human rights, International Agreements, gender and sex, stakeholders, women participation in elections, Election guidelines and standards, the electoral cycle, voter education, women and elections, the legal framework, legal structures and institutions,, women and legal framework, voter registration, women voting in secret, women and right to stand in elections, strategies for increasing representation, electoral systems and women, special measures to increase female representation in legislatures.
18 participants attended the workshop, the group included IEC managers from Head Office and District Offices as well as representatives of Civil Society Organizations namely Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), and Lesotho Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA). Out of the 18 participants, 17 were awarded certificates.
Four BRIDGE facilitators (3 Females and 1 Males) participated in the delivery of the course:
Maseara successfully completed her fieldwork and was therefore accredited as a workshop facilitator during this workshop.
Judging from the feedback received, it is therefore believed that the course served its purpose. Most participants seemed very positive and enthusiastic about the workshop and the information they obtained during this training that they promised to be more sensitive towards gender issues and incorporate gender matters into the electoral processes and give all the developments made by IEC a fresh eye of improvement, building on all what has been done to perfect it.
During this course, gender issues and all other related concepts inclusive of electoral process were defined; legal framework for electoral process of Lesotho in the Gender perspective was examined (Local Government and National Assembly elections Acts). Furthermore, participants made gender analysis in the leadership of political parties’ structures, gender equality and women’s political participation, obstacles and barriers to gender equality in the electoral process and best practices of gender and elections in Africa and comparative studies of some countries in different continents. There was active participation during the entire programme and participants positively expressed their views in good spirit.
Some comments from participants:
“Women empowerment programs and strategies need to be supported in order to be sustained. Even if these could be implemented special training is necessary in order for women to occupy decision making positions”
“I enjoyed the facilitation due to its all-inclusive and participatory engagement because it gave us ownership and the ability to assess our individual knowledge in as far as gender and elections is concerned”
“FIDA can broaden and add women in election sensitisation to their objectives and mandate”
“The presence of civil society staff has brought so much knowledge more especially because they are hands on and deal with the issues of gender on day to day activities”
“As an EMB we have the opportunity to reach many electoral stakeholders by holding workshop on electoral education and these topics on Gender and Election should form part of our curriculum while training the stakeholder in order to spread the message on gender issues” ………
Thanking the Electoral Commission of Lesotho – IEC for sponsoring and hosting the programme.
Congratulations to Maseara!
Thank you to the facilitators and participants.
Wishing you all the best in your future endeavours!