UN Women Ethiopia organized two 3,5 days BRIDGE workshops on Gender Equality and Elections to build the capacities of various stakeholders including Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, various Civil Society Organizations, Political Parties, National Elections Board of Ethiopia and UN Women staff. The workshops aimed to increase awareness of the participants on how to make the electoral cycle gender sensitive/responsive and enhance women’s political and civic participation, plan and implement advocacy and lobbying campaign aimed at political reform for increased women representation.
The workshops were led online by Shalva Tskhakaia and Natia Kashakashvili and held with combined modality during 16-19 December and 23-26 December, 2020 in Addis Ababa. In total 47 participants representing various stakeholder attended the two workshops: 21 – EHRC, 10 – CSOs, 7 – Political parties, 3 – UN Women, 2 – Ministry of Women, Children and youth Affairs, 2 – Academia and Independent experts; amongst participants 24 were men and 23 women. It’s important to mention the UN Women facilitators’ hard work in ensuring the friendly atmosphere as well as organizing the participants’ interaction at the training room. UN Women facilitators were very responsive to the needs of the BRIDGE facilitators and overall the smooth communication led to the very harmonized facilitation.
The BRIDGE facilitators used several online tools (including mentimeter.com, google forms and google docs, and online flipchart platform – mural.com) to guarantee interactive character of BRIDGE workshop. In order to ensure participants’ understanding of the topic while considering the time limits, facilitators had to adapt session delivery approaches on the go, in some cases replacing active learning with the passive methods. Nonetheless, participants have fully engaged in the activities and enjoyed sharing experiences from different countries.
During the workshops, participants have gained knowledge about international standards and best practices for ensuring equal rights for men and women in electoral processes, international treaties and provisions guaranteeing the civil and political rights of women, legal framework of elections, including various legal instruments and the provisions mainstreaming gender equality throughout the electoral cycle; also, they have analyzed various obstacles that are faced by women as voters, candidates and as election officials and entertained possibilities to overcome same obstacles. Participants were also explained the impact of Electoral Systems on women representation and the importance of designing quota wisely. They learned about the plurality-majority, proportional and parallel electoral systems. Participants also had a chance to learn about the experience of various countries on advocating and lobbying for increased women participation in political process, they practiced designing advocacy campaign strategy and planning future countrywide reform and as well as internal, organizational mainstreaming efforts.
Overall, the new modality of the BRIDGE workshop provided worthy level of interactivity and participants’ ability to develop new knowledge and skills, while the facilitators’ ability to interact with participants during the group work stayed the main challenge.
At the end of the workshop, participants were granted certificates with the electronic signatures of the facilitators.