Building Women’s Political Participation in Haiti

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Thriving and revitalized, the city of Port-au-Prince hosted its first ever BRIDGE courses for members of the Haitian electoral management body.52 participants experienced BRIDGE for the first time during the two 5-day trainings, held back-to-back from April 15 – 26, 2013. The participants were drawn primarily from different departments of the CTCEP (Transient College of Permanent Electoral Council). They spent the five days engaged with the newly revised Gender and Elections Module.
 
The CTCEP has a critical task ahead of them as they seek to address the serious gender gap in political participation in Haiti. They will be leaders in the implementation of the new constitutional amendment that requires a minimum 30% quota in all areas of public life. This will be a challenge indeed: although women are the backbone of much of the economic recovery that has taken place since the earthquake, they are virtually absent from elected and appointed government positions. Furthermore, it is estimated that over 70% of Haitian women have been affected by some form of violence, often domestic.  The CTCEP explored the many ways in which an EMB can make a positive impact on improving equality in their society.
 
The week drew on recently published and upcoming research from UNDP’s GPECS program in the areas of EMB’s role in promoting gender, violence against women in elections, and gender and political parties. Several new materials were introduced to tailor the module to the Haitian context, including an in-depth look at the options for applying a quota in electoral laws. The training also benefited from an exceptional collaboration between partners. Organized by UNDP, financial support was also contributed by International IDEA and UN Women, whereas other international partners including the MINUSTAH, OAS, NDI, USAID, the European Union, and the Haiti-Canada Cooperation Centre funded by CIDA contributed with their expertise in reviewing the materials and providing background references to tailor each activity to Haiti.
 
One of the highlights of the trainings was a special guest speaker, Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassègue. Ms. Lassègue was formerly Haiti’s minister for Culture and Communication (2009-2011) and Minister for Women’s Affairs and Rights (2006-2009), and is currently in charge of International IDEA’s programs in Haiti. She spoke about her advocacy of the quota and her experience as a promoter of gender equality in Haiti, both as a government official and as a leader of one of the largest women’s organizations in Haiti, Fanm yo la, which means “Women are here”.
 
The workshops were led by Samia Mahgoub (Accrediting Facilitator) and Gabrielle Bardall (Expert Facilitator). During the course, Lourdes Gonzalez, UNDP Elections Project Manager, earned her full accreditation as a workshop facilitator. Lourdes not only co-facilitated the course but was also the principal organizer of the training and coordinator of the international partnership. These workshops were the first held for a fully Haitian group. A workshop was organized for MINUSTAH staff in 2011, following the Presidential and Legislative elections. The Caribbean region has held very few BRIDGE courses thus far and hopefully will see more in the future.

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