Gender and Elections Course for Gender Desk Officers in Nigeria

28 June 2013

Democratic Governance for Development, a project under UNDP, funded the Gender and Elections module for Gender Desk Officers for State Independent Election Commissions. The project is funded with contributions from European Commission (EU), UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP). This project has various aims and enhancing participation of women, youth and other marginalized groups is one of the core aims.

The state independent electoral commissions as per the federal system of Nigeria are independent of the Independent National Elections Commission. They are funded by various states and operate under state governors. SIEC’s mission is to conduct elections at the lower local government bodies. These are mainly official holding elective positions of leadership at state level and not the federal government. Participants were drawn from thirty five states and were thirty five in number. This spectrum of different shades provided an opportunity to share experiences, compare Gender mainstreaming issues and experience different learning situations.

This five-day intensive training covered topics relating to democracy, gender and women participation, Elections and women participation, voter registration, representation and gender mainstreaming, electoral systems and the quotas, voter education, media and women participation, election management bodies, gender and election observation and working for change. BRIDGE as a course received substantial treatment as well.

Conducted at the Airport Hotel in Lagos, the training took place from 3rd -7th June, 2013 to take advantage of the breaks most states had after elections. The training was further enriched by a team of women who are active participants in politics. Ms. Ada Agina- Ude, Ms. Morenike Alaka and Ms. Nnenna Nwana gave their personal experiences as women in politics, their insights and challenges met while advancing their political careers.

The experience, content, knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by all participants throughout the workshop contributed to the achievement of the aims of the training. The mixture of different experiences and expertise contributed to the success of the workshop. Participants exchanged information, experiences and practices among themselves and with the facilitators. The positive spirit amongst the participants was key to their end of course evaluations. Many participants gained serious insights into the gender issue with the help of the BRIDGE Gender module. One participant on his day four evaluation on other comments section commented” I have been blind about gender issues, now I can see why we need legislation to mainstream gender into our leadership. Women need support and I am now awake”

Various techniques were applied to deliver the BRIDGE content, including Group Work, Mini lectures and Case Studies. Throughout the programme, facilitators conducted icebreakers and energizers in order to establish rapport among the participants and to rejuvenate the mind and body. During the first day of the course, participants developed their own code of conduct and one of the senior people amongst them was chosen as the leader. This was also another approach to working with adults and a way of constructing accepted behaviors for the rest of the five-day programme.

The course ended with course evaluations, reflections, what was learnt and a certificate giving ceremony. To Do Activity List for the SIEC’s to embark on completing the training was highlighted. Ms. Aku Magdalene and Ms. Helen Ogundana received their full accreditation as workshop facilitators from the lead facilitator.

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