Gender and Governance
Until women are represented more fully in local, national and international decision-making bodies, their priorities will not receive needed resources. Today, women hold less than 20 percent of parliamentary seats worldwide. Women in conflict, post-conflict and transitional environments are particularly disadvantaged.
CEDPA is dedicated to assuring women’s greater participation in governance as a step to building stronger societies. For 35 years, we have worked together with local organizations to support an equal role for women in their communities and nations.
CEDPA’s programs raise awareness and provide women with the tools to build more just societies. We partner with communities to register voters, raise women’s voices within peace efforts, mobilize advocates for better public policy and increase women’s political participation.
Since 1995, CEDPA has managed projects to strengthen the ability of actors for civil society to hold their governments accountable for their issues, priorities and concerns.
In countries emerging from conflict, there is a window of opportunity to ensure that women are involved in the process of creating new policy frameworks, institutional and governing structures, and new democratic cultures. This holds the potential that their issues and concerns are addressed at the earliest possible point.
In Kenya, CEDPA, together with the Women’s Political Alliance-Kenya, the Caucus for Women’s Leadership and the League of Women Voters-Kenya, sought to ensure that female political candidates and aspirants could be readily identified by political parties prior to the 2007 elections.
To this end, the four groups joined forces to compile an up-to-date and easy to use database of all female political candidates and aspirants. The database included political profiles of all aspirants, mapping and demographic characteristics that could be used to identify any obstacles in the candidates’ districts.
CEDPA continued its partnership with the Caucus for Women’s Leadership and the League of Women Voters-Kenya on an initiative to address gender-based election violence. The initiative trained monitoring agents to identify and report incidences of gender-based election violence; trained female candidates and aspirants on issues of election security; and developed information, education and communication materials to raise awareness of gender-based electoral violence and the means to avoid it.
The partnership also focused on securing women’s land rights in the new constitution. CEDPA, the Caucus for Women’s Leadership and the League of Women Voters-Kenya convened a Women’s Land Tenure Working Group that met with Ministry of Lands, local Land Boards and grassroots women’s groups throughout the country to muster support for provisions that ensured women’s secure land tenure in the new constitution.
In Nepal, CEDPA works with women’s groups to ensure that their voices are heard in the post-conflict reconstruction process and the new government to ensure it is being more responsive to issues of gender and social inclusion.
In order to prepare women for what lies ahead, CEDPA conducted a post-conflict workshop series. The workshops outline the political processes that occur after conflict has ended, and ways women can engage in these processes to advance women's leadership. CEDPA brought in women experts in legal and constitutional issues from South Africa and Kenya to share their experiences in the constitutional drafting process in their countries with workshop participants.
The workshops inspired participants to form a network called Women Acting Together for Transformative Change or WomenAct. The coalition includes over 36 women’s NGOs and NGO networks that will work to ensure that women throughout Nepal can raise their voices, work together, and support each other in making the changes they want to see in their country.
WomenAct has drafted a Woman’s Charter for inclusion in political parties’ manifestos and in the new constitution. At the request of the press and women constituent assembly members, CEDPA/WomenAct put together a one-day session on gender equality with discussions on the articles outlined in the charter.
Through media outreach such as radio programs, WomenAct encourages women from every part of the country to participate in the process. In addition, the WomenAct Web site was launched to serve as an organizing tool for women’s advocacy in the constitution-making process.
After news of CEDPA’s post-conflict workshops, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction in Nepal invited CEDPA to conduct a workshop series within the Ministry highlighting issues of gender and social inclusion. CEDPA also delivered a training on gender and capacity building for the newly appointed Peace and Gender Focal Points in each of Nepal’s national-level ministries.
Continuing to work on gender inclusion in post-conflict Nepal, CEDPA just completed a gender and social inclusion program working with USAID/ARD on the Nepal Government Citizenship Partnership Project. The goal of this project was to work with local governments, organizations and groups to enhance three components; governance, small infrastructure and peace building. CEDPA worked in partnership with USAID/ARD to provide technical support to strengthen knowledge and expand understanding on gender and social inclusion.
In implementing the project, CEDPA designed a training module, “Gender and Social Inclusion in Conflict Sensitive Development”. Working with this module, CEDPA held capacity building and training of trainers workshops to help develop district level leaders with the knowledge and skills needed. The training module is highly replicable and will be sustainable in the community as the networks continue to advocate for gender and social inclusion from the village to district government levels.
In Nigeria, CEDPA has spearheaded initiatives to engage civil society organizations and leaders in promoting electoral and constitutional reform, advocating for greater transparency and accountability in government, and averting and managing conflicts among interest groups. CEDPA has worked to mobilize women voters in every Nigerian election since the restoration of democracy there in 1999. During the 2003 elections, CEDPA managed the deployment of 4,600 monitors in 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states; this was the largest election monitoring effort involving women and Muslims in Nigeria’s history.
In 2007, CEDPA/Nigeria mobilized women voters to increase their turnout in the April elections and help put women’s concerns on the election agenda by holding a Women’s Summit in Maiduguri, Borno State to advance women’s participation. The Summit brought together government officials, women leaders, grassroots groups with broad community reach, and key religious leaders from the Christian and Muslim faiths.
Following the Summit, CEDPA led strategies to mobilize women voters through partnerships with community activists and women’s organizations building on the work in the 1999 and 2003 Nigerian elections.
For the upcoming April, 2011 elections, CEDPA is working with a consortium of 100 women’s organizations to ensure their rights are advocated for and represented in the new government.
Worldwide, CEDPA has strengthened women’s leadership skills through our global training programs. Our alumni have gone on to become vice presidents, ministers and parliamentarians in their nations.
CEDPA will continue to build the leadership of strong women’s groups and other key civil society sector organizations and provide advocacy skills training that will give women a greater voice in developing the political and economic agendas of their countries and communities.
We will develop, support and test strategic tools and interventions in conflict transformation and peace-building, collaborating with and learning from a variety of partners and emerging leaders in the field in response to a strong mandate from our global partners.