Training to support women political candidates

The Australian Government, UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) have united in a project to encourage prospective female candidates in next year’s general election. 

The project offers free short courses that may help the women with their preparations for the 2021 General Elections.

The course and project will remain confidential and there are no plans to reveal the identities of the candidates involved.

The programme is scheduled to start start this week from February 10 to 14.

It is not the first time UN Women and the U.N.D.P. have stepped up to organize training sessions for potential candidates.

In 2015, nineteen women from Upolu and Savai’i benefited from the training learning about political processes and parliamentary procedures.  

During those short courses, women have strengthened their capacities in a variety of fields including communicating and engaging with voters through different media planning and running a successful election campaign; and the art of serving constituents as a parliamentarian after the election.

The project is also inspiring debate on the role that M.Ps should have in the national budget process.  

Sessions were facilitated by Elizabeth Weir, a senior international parliamentary expert. The Canadian-born expert has extensive experience in training parliamentarians, party activists and candidates across several countries. 

The women also had a run-down of what really goes on in the chambers that year, when they were made to debate for the introduction of a practise bill and then a question time session with Speaker, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt. 

The Pacific region has the world’s lowest rates of women in Parliament. Representation by women stands at an average of just 5.5 per cent of all representatives; low levels of female participations are also reflected in Samoa. Just three women are currently in Samoa’s Parliament,  leaving the country ranked 126 out of 138 countries. In the 2011 election, just eight of the 162 candidates were women.  

The coordinator of the Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (I.P.P.W.S) Programme, Gatoloai Tili Afamasaga, told the Samoa Observer that realising gender equality in political participation as a reality was a core commitment of the United Nations’. 

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