BRIDGE workshops in Paraguay on gender, strategic planning and equal access to the electoral cycle
For the first time in Paraguay’s history, International IDEA, collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Paraguay, organized four BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) workshops as part of the European Union’s Promotion of Democracy through Capacity Development of the National Electoral Management Body project. The purpose of the workshops was to strengthen the specialized capacities of Electoral Tribunal staff and interested stakeholders, on the importance of gender mainstreaming and equal access for underrepresented groups throughout the electoral cycle.
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The two first workshops on “Gender and Elections” were held from 11 to 13 October 2017, with 86 participants. This module focused on analyzing and discussing:
- key concepts on gender equality and its importance for the exercise of political rights;
- the electoral cycle from a gender perspective;
- the participation of women in politics as voters and candidates;
- gender quotas and their effectiveness in electoral systems; and
- strategies to address obstacles to the full political participation of women.
The following two workshops on "Access to the electoral process and strategic planning" were held from 18 to 20 October 2017. Participants reflected on international experiences and best practices on equal access to electoral processes, to ensure that underrepresented groups, including women, youth, persons with disabilities and indigenous communities are able to fully exercise their civil and political rights. During these workshops, the participants were introduced to specialized theoretical knowledge and were provided with practical tools for strategic planning throughout the electoral cycle.
International IDEA convened six international experts on elections and experienced BRIDGE facilitators:
- Aleida Ferreyra, a Mexican specialist on Electoral Policy at the UNDP New York office and focal point for the BRIDGE consortium;
- Fernanda Lopes, a Portuguese specialist in the Elections Program from the UNDP Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama;
- Rosario Gamarra, a high-ranking officer from the Peru National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE), invited to capitalize on bilateral cooperation between Paraguay and Peru in electoral matters;
- Lourdes González Prieto, International IDEA facilitator from Mexico, Head of the Paraguay Programme;
- Sheila Serrano, international consultant from Bolivia; and
- Lluís Juan Rodríguez international consultant from Spain.
The modules were developed by BRIDGE in collaboration with the Superior Electoral Tribunal of Paraguay (TSJE), under the leadership of Justice Maria Elena Wapenka, TSJE Member. BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) is the most prestigious electoral capacity building program in the world, designed specifically for people working directly in electoral processes management, as well as actors interested in electoral work and democratic development. It is a modular professional development program with a particular focus on electoral processes, developed in the 1990’s by a consortium comprising International IDEA, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD), and the Australian Electoral Commission.
International IDEA is working with BRIDGE in Paraguay to strengthen the quality of service from the Electoral Tribunal, promote improved resources in democratic governance and elections, support the conduct of more inclusive, transparent and sustainable electoral processes, provide up-to-date information on electoral systems in a compared perspective, and propose strategies to enhance the promotion of political and electoral participation of underrepresented groups.