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Global Knowledge Network On Voter Education - learning from each other

UNDP’s Role in Voter Education for Enhanced Participation of Women
Women’s participation in decision making and leadership is one of the priorities of UNDP in its global Strategic Plan and the gender equality strategy 2014-17. UNDP works with women’s networks and its sister agencies such as UN Women, UNICEF and other UN agencies and networks facilitating women’s access to opportunities to exercise their political rights, participate in decision-making, exercise leadership, and contribute to political processes. Through its projects and partnerships across many countries, it promotes women’s participation as voters and candidates in electoral processes and institutions through women’s candidate training, awareness campaigns, building the capacities of electoral management bodies (EMB), including by promoting gender parity and encouraging gender equality in Election Management Bodies.
With the objective of promoting gender equality in electoral processes UNDP and UN Women have jointly produced a guide ‘Inclusive Electoral Processes: A Guide for Electoral Management Bodies on Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Participation’. This guide focuses attention on the role of electoral management bodies in encouraging the participation of women across various points in the electoral cycle. The Guide highlights the important work being carried out by the UN and by EMBs, offering concrete examples of steps that can be taken to remove remaining barriers that continue to affect women’s participation in electoral processes. The guide is available at http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/democraticgovernance/electoral_systemsandprocesses/ guide-for-electoral-management-bodies-on promotinggenderequali.html in Arabic, English, French, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. It shares strategies to mainstream gender equality within the organizational structure of EMBs (to ensure women participate at all levels of decision-making; data collected is disaggregated by sex; that the organization formalizes its commitment to gender equality through a gender policy) and in the organization and administration of the election by the EMB (voter education and outreach; candidate and voter registration processes; ensuring all voters are able to securely access a polling station).
The following are some of the good practices on increased participation of women in the voting processes that UNDP is facilitating and are worth sharing:
In Kyrgyzstan UNDP is supporting a project “Women as Peaceful Voters; Women as Candidates” which aims at strengthening the capacities of women candidates and women voters. The “Follow your voice!” information campaign had been developed for the 2015 parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan and aimed at drawing attention to the issue of women’s participation in the electoral process and increase awareness of the importance of women’s political participation. The campaign had been conducted by a network of nongovernmental organizations of Kyrgyzstan with support from the UNDP/UNICEF project “Women as Peaceful Voters and Women as Candidates. As a result, more than 250 women registered for local parliaments and around 100 women were nominated as candidates.
In Haiti the UNDP project “Support to the Electoral Cycle Project in Haiti” aims at strengthening the capacities of the institutions involved in the organization of elections, to contribute to the organization of presidential, legislative, municipal and local elections according to the electoral calendar and in a free, transparent, credible and inclusive manner. One important component of the project is the support to the participation of youth and women in the electoral process, which is reflected in its main lines of work: (i) support to civic and electoral education through empowering and strengthening the capacities of youth and women networks; (ii) support to the participation of women candidates; (iii) awareness-raising around violence against women and safety measures; (iv) an information/communication campaign about civic and electoral education by national media; (v) electoral data segregation by gender; (vi) training and capacity building to the EMB staff. As a result more than 1,000 people from civil society organizations have been trained on civic education techniques and 300 volunteers were trained to conduct civic education that reached around 35,000 people (UN Women); around 106,000 people were reached through the civic education actions of 150 ‘Volunteer Replicators of Democracy and Citizenship.' In Solomon Islands UNDP’s ‘Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in the Solomon Islands Project (SECSIP)’ has forged a partnership with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development to encourage students and teachers to consider how equality, in terms of representation as elected leaders, might impact the lives of their communities and country.
UNDP recognizes the important role of the formal and informal organizations especially those who promote gender parity in the election processes and seeks to advance the capacities of partner organisations as varied as Election Management Bodies, Civil Society Organisations, community-based organizations, as well as communities and citizens acting individually and collectively. We hope the VoICENET.IN will benefit from UNDP good practices and resources and are glad to facilitate exchange of knowledge through our global networks, experts and practitioners on elections administration.

Sumeeta Banerji
Assistant Country Director & Head (Democratic Governance)
United Nations Development Programme