Female West African elections observers are being trained to observe elections in Sierra Leone and Ghana
WACSI has convened members of the West Africa Elections Observation Team (WAWEO) in Accra, Ghana, to undertake a five day training on Gender-Sensitive Elections Observation, Reporting and Policy Advocacy. The training, organized by WACSI is being supported by IBIS West Africa, The Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and Women in Peace and Security Network Africa. The training commenced today and will end on Friday September 28, 2012.
Participants at the training are women from thirteen West African Countries who have contributed in electoral processes across the sub-region. These participants are members of WAWEO, a West African elections observation team that engages in electoral processes and collects information using a gender focused lens.
Mr. Zakaria Sulemana, Director of the West Africa Human Rights and Democracy Project from IBIS West Africa shared his organization’s commitment to support the course of WAWEO. He stressed that IBIS seeks to support underprivileged groups in West Africa and sees this as an opportunity to promote women’s strategic inclusion in decision making processes in the sub-region. He stressed that this platform seeks to increase women’s visibility in participatory governance in West Africa and noted that data collected by these observers would be used to seek ways of addressing any barriers to women’s increased political participation in the sub-region.
The training aims to provide WAWEO members with requisite skills in gender-sensitive elections observation, gender disaggregated data collections, reporting and policy advocacy skills. The training seeks to prepare the group for eventual deployment to observe forthcoming elections across West Africa, specifically the November and December 2012 general elections in Sierra Leone and Ghana respectively.
During the first day of the training, participants examined the role of observers during electoral processes. They identified possible challenges and shared the challenges they faced while observing the elections in Senegal, Liberia and Guinea Bissau. This enabled them to identify possible approaches of minimising possible challenges when deployed to observe elections in the future, notably, in Sierra Leone and Ghana in November and December 2012 respectively.
Ms. Eunice Akweley Roberts, Former Member of the Ghana Electoral Commission and a key member of WAWEO noted at the opening ceremony that this training is vital in strengthening WAWEO members to make valuable contributions in electoral processes in the sub-region. She explained that the experiences of WAWEO while observing the elections in Liberia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau gave the team more reason to seek suitable ways of identifying the challenges and successes realized by West African women during electoral processes. She is optimistic that this training will provide the team with essential skills needed to be more effective when deployed to observe elections in the sub-region.
The Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Afadzinu pointed out that WACSI creates tactical spaces to increase women’s political participation in West Africa. She explained that WAWEO is an outcome of the recommendations of the second West African Women’s Policy Forum that took place in 2009 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Women at this forum identified the need to put in place a structure to pay particular attention to the social and structural challenges that face women’s effective participation in electoral processes in West Africa. WACSI therefore brought together a team of experienced and dedicated West African women who are well informed about electoral processes in the sub-region and continent.
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