November 9 to 11 2014, the International Foundation for Electoral System supported the Election Commission of Nepal to organize a three-day BRIDGE workshop on “Gender, Inclusion and Elections” for representatives of civil society organizations including Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOS). The workshop was held in the district of Surkhet in Nepal. The program was attended by 25 people (17 women and 5 with disability) each representing a civil society organization working with women, persons with disability and other marginalized communities. Participants came from five districts namely Banke, Bardia, Surkhet, Dailekh and Jajarkot in the Mid-Western development region of the country.
The workshop aimed to increase participants’ knowledge and understanding of mainstreaming gender as well as other marginalized groups and their access to elections. The workshop covered important issues related to integrating gender and minorities in elections such as: Why have elections?; international standards; ways of helping women and marginalized people to register and vote, representation (quotas and affirmative action) for women and marginalized groups in elections, ECN’s gender and inclusion policy; and integrating gender and minorities in election observation. The level of participants’ understanding and knowledge was evaluated using pre/post questionnaires which showed a 48% improvement. Additionally participant’s daily evaluation of the workshop demonstrated their appreciation of the training techniques used in the sessions. At the end of the sessions, all the participants expressed their commitment to contribute to the promotion of gender equality and inclusion in the electoral and political processes. A participant from Jajarkot district said “The program is very useful, very interactive. I learnt a lot. Now, I will go back home and use it to empower persons with disability to participate in the election and political process.” The training was facilitated by the following team of well experienced BRIDGE accredited facilitators: Ms. Radhika Regmi Mr. Ram Govind Aryal and semi-accredited facilitators Ms. Nilu Puri Basnyat Mr. Shyam Kumar Yadav.