Suva, Fiji: Fifty four Pacific delegates have gained new skills to support elections across the region, thanks to Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) workshops this week. The workshops held in Suva are part of broader efforts to strengthen the electoral capacity within the Pacific, through experience and knowledge sharing, among others.
Focused on election observation, and gender and elections, the workshops were delivered through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand Electoral Administrators (PIANZEA) Network, and the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs – Electoral Assistance Division, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.
BRIDGE is a unique collaboration between leading organizations in the field of democracy and governance. It is a comprehensive curriculum and workshop package on electoral matters, designed to be used as a tool to help build capacity of electoral administrators and electoral management bodies across the globe.
54 representatives (half of them women) from electoral management bodies, inter-governmental, civil society, and women’s organizations across the Pacific attended the four-day event.
The objectives of the workshops were to:
The workshops are considered essential for building the capacity of those involved in the wider electoral process. The workshops provided training on the technical aspects of electoral management but also provided a forum for networking and sharing experiences. It is hoped that the knowledge gained will help strengthen democratic practices in the region and contribute to credible, transparent, inclusive, and peaceful elections.
Stella Aitcheson, representing the Office of the Attorney General in Tuvalu, was attending her first BRIDGE workshop and said the experience gained from her four days in Suva was invaluable.
“The workshop focusing on gender and elections, in particular, will greatly help in ensuring that our electoral work in Tuvalu considers the needs of women. I look forward to heading home and sharing the findings with our team, as we continue to further inclusivity and representation in all electoral activities in Tuvalu,” she said.
Desmond Tsianai from the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, acted as a facilitator and said the opportunity to share experiences was vital for strengthening the civic space across the Pacific.
“The feedback this week in regard to the networking element of the workshop has been fantastic. It’s incredibly rewarding for participants, and hopefully when they return to their respective countries, they can work to influence positive change in the electoral space,” he said.
The BRIDGE workshops took place from 19-22 September 2023 at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji.
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