The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations (UN) hosted a Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) training workshop on Gender and Elections in Pretoria, South Africa from 26 to 28 March 2018. The workshop aimed to provide electoral stakeholders with the opportunity to explore the role of women in electoral and political processes in the SADC Region and address ways of enhancing women's participation in these processes. Among others, the workshop curriculum covered the mainstreaming of gender throughout the electoral cycle and the sharing of regional best practices on the promotion of women's electoral and political participation.
This joint initiative by SADC and the United Nations builds upon a longstanding cooperation between the two organisations on electoral partnership initiatives which have been facilitated by the UN Electoral Assistance Division and the SADC Organ Directorate on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs' Electoral Support Unit (ESU). The workshop was officially opened by Her Excellency, Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas, UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa, Mr Simon-Pierre Nanitelamio, Deputy Director of the UN Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD), and Dr Kondwani Chirambo, Coordinator of the Regional Political Cooperation (RPC) programme from the SADC Secretariat, representing the Executive Secretary, Her Excellency, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax.
Established in 1999, BRIDGE is a renowned international professional development training program focusing on electoral processes. The SADC-UN BRIDGE workshop drew over forty (40) participants from the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) from SADC Member States, members of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC), officials from the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC), SADC Lawyers Association (SADC-LA), African Union (AU), International Conference of the Great Lakes (ICGLR), Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), and International Cooperating Partners including the European Union (EU) delegation to Botswana and SADC, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
As the region heads into a busy election season with ten (10) national elections expected between 2018 and the end of 2019, the SADC Secretariat intends to facilitate the holding of similar training workshops with the aim to support Member States' electoral processes, and provide opportunities for strengthening and building of electoral administrative and management capacity.