The Electoral Commission of Lesotho in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program – UNDP organised a BRIDGE Gender and Elections course on 29 July to 02 August 2013 in Mohale Lodge- Lesotho. This project is one of many interventions by the UNDP with a purpose of strengthening the Electoral Commission by developing capacity for the officials for effective management of all Electoral processes and administrative activities. This was also meant to capacitate political parties that are registered with the Electoral Commission. This workshop was one course in a series of capacity development efforts that are planned as part of the consolidation of democracy, governance and elections by Irish Aid, UNDP and the Electoral Commission.
Many organisations in the development world are taking the concept of Gender Mainstreaming very seriously and most are doing their best to integrate the gender dimension into the implementation of all their projects. Various countries have endorsed the International Agreements that promote Gender equality however the incorporation of the provisions of the agreements into some countries’ legislation is still a major hurdle especially in countries where some laws do not recognize Gender Equality. Lesotho is one of the countries that have signed and ratified many of the International Agreements and have subsequently incorporated the provisions of these agreements into the legislation, as this is very crucial in the process of effecting of the stated provisions.
The objective of the BRIDGE Gender and Elections course was to provide capacity development for Civic and Voter Education staff of the Electoral particularly for incorporation of Gender issues into long term ongoing Civic/Voter Education programmes. The main purpose for this course was also to encourage gender mainstreaming in the electoral processes and practices, promote gender equality issues and sensitise political parties’ members about gender equality, electoral and political party legislation that would need to be revised to better reflect the gender balance in the country. The workshop was also blessed by the attendance of the Minister of Communications, Members of Parliament from two houses; National Assembly and Senate (College of chiefs), from the political parties whose presence and contributions were tremendously valuable and much appreciated.
The participants were taken through an intensive programme which encompassed content on Democracy, Governance and Human Rights; International Agreements, Applicable Legislative Framework, Strategies for enhancing women’s participation in Electoral processes; Electoral Systems and Quotas. The participants were also taken through the relevant websites that would provide valuable information for future use after the workshop.
Some comments from participants………
“Electoral Stakeholders can be involved in enhancing women’s political participation, an example of Rwanda, the process started voluntarily until it was constituted and carried to the grassroots level”.(Ponts’o Kobo IEC Botha-Bothe, )
“That women play very important role in national politics and they have to be promoted, encouraged and persuaded to get involved in as many as they can”(Moletsane Jonathan BNP Party)
“The outstanding issue learned pertains to how voluntary quotas can help parties perform well in elections”(Alexis Hanyane BDNP Party)
“Building an inclusive Democratic systems with the ultimate goal of empowering women”(Tšeliso Mokhosi LCD Party)
“I will use BRIDGE course for capacity building in the organization to enable us to identify those obstacles in the gender barriers and education”(Thuto Peshoane WhiteHorse Party)
“These kind of courses that BRIDGE provides are very much useful to us as EMB employees, so it would be more valuable if the other modules can be done in the same manner” (Selebalo Matheantoa IEC Leribe,)
“I think once again I want to thank you guys; my facilitators for being patient with us. God Bless you all”(Rosa Lenea LWP,)
“The course was very fruitful and high on content and straight to the point and I love that the facilitators were highly committed to their work and as for participants, they were very much willing to share their knowledge”(Ntaoleng Mafisa MGSR)
Thank you very much to the Electoral Commission of Lesotho and UNDP, Facilitators and participants; wishing you everything of the best in all your endeavours!
By: Sibongile Zimemo