ECP, IFES Gender Equality and Elections Workshop 1
27-29 September 2021
Election Commission of Pakistan, under the aegis of Federal Election Academy, Islamabad and International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Pakistan in joint collaboration held 1st Gender Equality and Elections Workshop in series of three such workshops for the 1st Group of 25 newly appointed Election Officers of the Election Commission of Pakistan, from 27th to 29th September, 2021 in Hotel Margalla, Islamabad. Gender Equality and Elections Module was one of three BRIDGE modules included in the 16-week comprehensive Pre-Service Training programme held for the newly appointed officials. The comprehensive training programme for the newly appointed ECP officials per se embodies the vision of Hon’ble Mr. M.J. Sikandar Sultan Raja, Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan with aim to administratively transform the ECP into an effective, efficient, responsive and vibrant EMB to deal effectively with challenges and come up to the expectations of a whole universe of stakeholders.
This module was intended to provide gender perspective to the participants on the electoral processes at the beginning of their career as an election administrator enabling them to understand the importance of gender mainstreaming, women and transgender in the electoral processes.
The module content of version-3 were slightly customized according to the local circumstances and truncated to fit it into three-day agenda, considering the fact that the participants possess no previous experience of electoral processes rather relying on electoral knowledge they acquired during Pre-Service Training at the Federal Election Academy. The broader thematic areas covered on gender equality and elections were as following:
- Local perspective to highlight challenges and barriers to women’s participation in the electoral processes;
- Concepts of gender equality and equity in the context of level playing field;
- How gender mainstreaming strategies might not work until barriers and obstacles are removed;
- Exploring various quota options under different electoral systems to make the representation of women in legislative bodies effective and meaningful;
- Implications for women of different voter registration procedures, processes and technology options;
- Importance of gender mainstreaming within the political parties; and
- EMBs internal gender mainstreaming strategies;
The workshop also included a special session delivered through virtual link by Ms. Rakhshanda Naz, provincial Ombudsperson for Protection of Women from Harassment at Workplace, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who has been women’s rights activist before joining the government body. She highlighted and thoroughly discussed challenges faced by women and redressal mechanisms within the government structure.
The facilitation team for the workshop, consisting of local and international facilitators, was as following:
- Aziz Bahadar, Accrediting Facilitator, ECP
- Meredith Applegate, Workshop Facilitator, IFES
- Nighat Siddique, Workshop Facilitator, ECP
- Nazar Abbas, Workshop Facilitator, ECP
- Aslam Brohi, Workshop Facilitator, IFES
- Abdul Wahid, Workshop Facilitator, ECP
Preparations and planning for the workshop were guided by Rushdi Nackerdien in a series of virtual meetings from Washington D.C. Similarly, Meredith Applegate also joined the facilitation team from Ukraine and she not only participated in the planning and preparation phase leading up to the event but also delivered session through virtual link, which was immensely enjoyed and appreciated by the participants.
Participants enthusiastically participated in all activities and they came up with practical and implementable suggestions and ideas for adopting various gender mainstreaming strategies both within the administrative sphere which might not require new law-making; and in the broader context necessitating consensus initiatives across the political arena and civil society, so as to ensure the effective and meaningful representation of women and other marginalized segments in policy making and democratic processes. The participants also developed personal action plans to assist and contribute in their working to the initiatives taken by the Election Commission of Pakistan for gender inclusive electoral processes, particularly, women and other marginalized groups in the society.
The objectives of the workshop were achieved and the participants appreciated in their verbal and written feedback the interactive and participatory methodology as an essence of BRIDGE modules. Being cognizant of the pandemic prevalence, the workshop was conducted diligently following COVID-19 prevention SOPs besides vaccination of all the participants and facilitation team during FEA-PST component of the training programme.
By Aziz Bahadar.