Double the effectiveness – Gender and Elections in Timor Leste – Twice!

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Secretariado Técnico Administração Eleitoral (STAE) decided to conduct BRIDGE Gender and Elections module in its 2008 to 2010 planning phase recognising that gender issues are important to Timor Leste’s future development.  Preparation for the module to be conducted in Dili began in February 2010.  The biggest problem was that too many people wanted to be participants!  We were very happy to have such a problem.  Many organisations were interested in sending representatives to the workshops.  Negotiations led to an agreement to conduct the module twice!

IMG_5543The BRIDGE Gender and Elections workshops were funded by AusAID and hosted by STAE.  The facilitation team included Eduardo Casimiro de Deus STAE, Augusto Pereira Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), Cate Thompson AEC, Martinho Chachiua UN adviser to Comissão Naçional de Eleição (CNE) and Ivo Rangel, Interpreter.

Both workshops were opened by Senhor Tomas Cabral, Director of STAE and an AusAID representative: Luis de Sousa Sequeira.  Workshop One and Antonio Vitor, Workshop Two.  Senhor Cabral stressed the importance of the training.  He encouraged all participants to take the greatest benefit possible from the training and use it in their future work.  He stressed the importance of ethics, integrity and professionalism for electoral administrators in their work.  The workshops were conducted in Dili, at Venture Hotel.

Workshop One – 12 to 15 April 2010, Dili

The participants included representatives from STAE, CNE, Observatorio da Igreja Para Os Assuntos Sociais (OIPAS), Centru Jornalista Investigativu Timor Leste (CJITL), Timor Leste Media Development Centre (TLMDC) and Alola Foundation.

Workshop Two – 19 to 22 April 2010, Dili

The participants included representatives from STAE, three of the CNE Commissioners and CNE staff, OIPAS, CJITL, TLMDC and Alola Foundation. We were also joined by participants from Secretaria De Estado ba Promosaun Igualdade (SEPI).

Augusto Pereira wrote:

“Kombinasaun staff husi parte hotu-hotu STAE, CNE, OIPAS, ALOLA, TLMDC, CJITL no SEPI hamutuk ho Komisariu CNE nain tolu: Kom Jose Agostinho, Dulce Vitor no Teresinha Noronha) ne’e fantastiku tebe-tebes. Sira aprende hamutuk diak tebes.

Frankly, the combination of different organisations such as STAE, CNE, OIPAS, ALOLA, TLMDC, CJITL and SEPI together with three Commissioners (Jose Agostinho, Dulce Vitor and Teresinha Noronha) was a fantastic moment for everyone to learn and explore together to do things better.

Parte ida seluk mos oin sa mak ita hotu bele reforsa, hakbiit no haklekan STAE ninia performance no servisu diak sira mak STAE halo ona ho ninia parseiru dezenvolvimentu sira liur atu nune’e ema hotu bele hatene katak STAE halo duni servisu diak.

Another part is how we are all to promote, reinforce and enhance STAE’s performance and its fantastic and hard work done with support from its development partners. All these hard work and success has to be shared with other organisations that STAE has done something good.”

Commitment, creativity, cultural considerations, a thirst for knowledge, enthusiasm, surprise and challenging discussions about traditional and modern behaviour and values were all on display.  Exploring the complexity of different electoral systems and their potential impacts on gender access; understanding the obstacles to women’s participation and the possible strategies, policies and solutions which can see better gender advancement and learning through experiencing meant that all participants had a fulfilling and engaging experience.

Leadership and networking which are so often the hallmarks of BRIDGE methodology were in evidence throughout the workshops.  Considering and discussing The Universal Declaration on Human Rights1948 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1981 (CEDAW) brought people to understand new ideas and considerations.  It is heartening to have people newly exposed to BRIDGE come to the realisation that they are part of the broader electoral family of people working towards a world where human rights are universally recognised.  As the Bejing statement indicates… when there is no longer a need for specific gender rights conventions we will have met our ultimate gender goals.

It was a pleasure to be able to accredit Martinho Chachiua as a BRIDGE Workshop Facilitator.  He completed his Train the Faciliatator in Afica in 2005 and is very pleased to have had this opportunity to complete his accreditation in Dili.  Welcome to the BRIDGE family Martinho.

The workshops were inspiring!  Twice!  They included the writing and performing of songs; the development of slogans and the making of personal plans to implement the lessons learned.  The all round responsiveness to BRIDGE from the participants was excellent and an added bonus was the session which considered organisational strategies to address gender issues in electoral administration in the future for Timor Leste.

In conclusion it’s fitting to share a couple of quotes from participants:  “Today was good and tomorrow will be fantastic.” And “I have never thought I had any responsibility for gender issues either in my work or my personal life and now I know I was wrong.  I have much to do!

By Cate Thompson and Augusto Pereira, 28 April 2010

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