*As catalyst for participatory governance*
No fewer than forty Guinean women carefully selected from all the strata of the country’s society have received a gender sensitive elections training and are now catalysts for participatory governance and development.
The women are to be drivers of an even, participatory political process and help to deliver good governance through sensitization of the people on the challenges of electioneering faced by women in particular. They are also now expected to be in the vanguard of advocacy for gender sensitivity in that country.
The training workshop which uses the BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) model held from the 1st to 3rd of October 2015 in Conakry, Guinea. It helped participants to identify some of the deficits in the advocacy capacities of women while incorporating elements of political leadership and dialogue skills meant to further drive the move for gender equality in national political representation.
The day-long, robust training exercise also saw the emergence of Mme Fatimata Fafa Balde as a qualified fully accredited BRIDGE trainer, thus the unveiling of one catalyst who met all requirements within the period, to instantly join (by helping to train others) in raising the banner of women empowerment.
Bearing a message of hope from the Guinean government to the women at the closing ceremony, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Affairs & the promotion of women and children (MASPFE) Mme Diaby Fatoumoita Sylla who stood in for her minister Sanoiboi Koiba maintained that true friends are known in difficult times. She stressed that ECOWAS has always stood by the women of Guinea at the period of their great suffering and thanked the ECOWAS Elections Division for promoting women advancement even as she noted with delight that the quality of the training has been good.
Mme Koiba disclosed that her ministry has now recommended that the same type of BRIDGE training must be given to other ministries, government agencies and more women across the inner recesses of Guinea as a guarantee that knowledge gained would be shared.
Mrs Beneta Tarr, speaking on behalf of the Director of Gender Dr. Sintiki Ugbe who represented the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow, thanked the Guinean government for the cooperation and positive attitude displayed throughout the training and asked the beneficiaries of the training to regard themselves as game changers in the assuredness that ECOWAS Commission is strongly in support of their goals and aspirations.
The exemplary new trainer Balde expressed her gratitude to all for being selected to lead in the new task for women. “I am very happy for this opportunity. It is good for the women of Guinea. It is a call to pay back to the people of Guinea and the government for what I have been able to learn. My joy is to be able to reawaken the participation of women in development and in democracy in Guinea” She added.
The ECOWAS team had before the commencement of the training workshop conferred with the Director-General, Bureau of Strategic Development (BSD) Alpha Jawara as well as the Inspector-General of MASPFE Mr. Dober Yassy
The BRIDGE election module featured training on how to handle such critical issues such as nature of electoral cycle, election integrity, barriers in electoral process, role and expectation of stakeholders in the electoral process as well as electoral security and the role of women in the prevention and peaceful settlement of electoral disputes among others.
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