[Photo: ECOWAS President addressing the ECOWAS Parliament]
Gender equity with the ultimate goal of promoting greater participation of women in electoral processes in the region is at the heart of a training workshop being organised by ECOWAS in conjunction with the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) in Conakry, Guinea from the 1st to the 3rd of October 2015.
The training workshop is in recognition of the vital role of women on lasting peace and in the prevention and resolution of conflict. It aims among others to educate women about the importance of empowering their kind as well as the gender mainstreaming point of entry in the electoral process.
It will also inform civil society and women advocacy groups regarding strategies to promote women’s participation in electoral processes as well as provide all participants of critical appraisal tools of elections from a gender perspective; and to offer women advocacy groups an opportunity for networking.
ECOWAS training on gender and elections will use the internationally recognised training program: “Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) model with special emphasis on the module on Gender & Elections
The Conakry training would also afford the opportunity for an appraisal of important issues such as gender stereotypes, psychological and traditional barriers and inequalities in education, training and resources, violence based on gender, inadequate institutions for protection and enforcement of women’s political rights, the exclusion of women in peace negotiations and consultations meant to determine the type and details of the electoral process; and the Lack of international and national investment in women grouping as actors around common political programmes.
Speaking on the upcoming event, the ECOWAS Director for Gender Dr. Sintiki Ugbe notes that “the ECOWAS Commission plays a crucial role in preventive diplomacy and other activities for consolidation of democracy and peace.
Democratic elections are seen as crucial elements in consolidating peace. One cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of elections as lasting solutions to conflicts. Peace and national prosperity cannot be achieved if the institutions are not democratic and representative of all groups in society, such as women, youth, men, minorities and the majority, the poor and the rich”
Gender experts have always maintained that if women’s groups can effectively organize themselves, they can play a major role in facilitating and supporting increased political participation.
The training workshop will be attended by representatives of women’s organizations engaged in election activities of the election administration and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of the respective member states.
The support for Gender and Elections Training for five of the countries with elections in 2015 namely; Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea is funded DANIDA.
The ECOWAS Commission through the support of DANIDA and in collaboration with the Ministries of Women Affairs has successfully conducted the BRIDGE-Gender Elections in Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.
The recognition of the need to involve women in all aspects of peace and international security led to the adoption of Resolution 1325 by the UN Security Council in the year 2000. The resolution calls for action in four areas related to women, peace and security.
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