From 10 to 12 of April 2013, representatives of the Parliament of Republic of Moldova and Central Electoral Commission (CEC) have participated in a joint workshop to explore the topic of Gender and Elections. The workshop was held in Chisinau and sought to bring together the staff of the above mentioned institutions, representatives of the four political parties represented in the Parliament and several participants from international community (UNDP and UN Women) – in total 19 persons – to build links across these organizations, while learning more about applying gender concepts to their work.
The idea of organizing this workshop for the political parties, has appeared after the deployment of the “Gender and Elections” Module in Bucharest, Romania for the representatives of the electoral authorities from the Republic of Moldova and Romania in October 2012.
The seminar was a collaboration between the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova and UNDP Moldova’s Programme for Improving the Quality of Moldovan Democracy, which is supported by Sweden. The organization of this seminar was also facilitated by the fact that this is a joint programme addressed to the CEC and the Parliament.
The workshop was facilitated by Corneliu Pasat (lead facilitator, from the CEC Moldova) and Veaceslav Balan (UN Women Moldova), both of them having practice in deploying gender modules. The workshop content was developed based on Gender and Elections module tested in Kenya and New York (USA). The facilitators made further changes and adapted it to the real needs of the participants. The workshop agenda was a shortened version of the Bucharest seminar (instead of 5 we had 3 days) and was prepared in order to explain the connection between different actors from the electoral process and the gender aspect, to raise participants’ awareness regarding the existence of gender issues in the activity of political parties, EMBs and elections, to show which are institutions that can play a significant role in solving these problems and which are mechanisms for achieving this goal.
What is important about this seminar is the fact that we gathered together the main actors of the Moldovan electoral process who created the perfect background for debating the gender issues:
– Electoral authority officials that have a strong electoral background and represent the CEC Gender Audit Working Group;
– Parliament staff – who can promote legislative reforms for assuring equal opportunities in the electoral process for both men and women;
– Political parties represented in the Parliament – responsible for the appointment of electoral candidates and campaigning, nomination of members to the electoral management bodies, appointment of other electoral subjects (observers, representatives etc.), and nomination of candidates to the public authorities, parliamentary commissions etc.
– Representatives of international community – having a good knowledge regarding the gender problems from our country and the best international practice/standards that need to be applied. They also represent the key partners of the Republic of Moldova in development strategies and implementing activities for the assurance of the gender equality.
A key issue for us was to be able to present the workshop in the Romanian language, for the representatives of one country, allowing participants to be as comfortable as possible while discussing what have proved to be difficult issues for us. All participants felt able to share their views and contribute in full BRIDGE spirit.
The workshop was a success, and met its two key objectives – improving knowledge of gender equality concepts and issues, and building peer relationships between the participants. The participants have highly appreciated BRIDGE methodology that combines theory and practice through exercise and team work and the presented topic. We have received many positive feedbacks:
“This seminar offered us the needed arguments that will be useful for us in promoting women participation among political parties.”
“It is important to continue the work we have started during this seminar and to promote the needed reforms and activities at the institutions we represent and to better integrate the gender concepts and principles among our society.”
“BRIDGE is using a tremendous methodology, very interactive, that didn’t allow us to get bored and succeeded to develop debates and to control discussions between people representing different institutions, ages and groups of interest. I’m a teacher and I’m sure I’ll use some of your methods for teaching pupils.”
“This workshop helped me to find out new information about the gender issue and to identify possible solutions for the existing problems.”
“What I like about this seminar is that we have succeeded to be out of the politics. I’m happy that I’ve met so many interesting persons that are also good professionals.”
The “Gender and Elections” module is very important for the Republic of Moldova in the context of the need to achieve the goals stipulated in the international and national documents. There are also two law projects that are supporting the gender equality (one regarding the political finance and another regarding the introduction of quotas in elections) that need to be promoted, discussed and adopted by the Parliament.
It is also important to mention that the CEC set out in its strategic plan (2012-2015), which involves the analysis of the existing policies and procedures needed to ensure equal access of women to men in the electoral processes. As a first step in fulfilling this commitment, the CEC has specified an activity that assumes the increased knowledge of the CEC members and staff on gender equality. The CEC and the UNDP Democracy Programme have planned a series of follow up activities, including the conduct of a gender audit.
Corneliu Pasat, Lead Facilitator.