WASHINGTON — (August 19, 2013) — The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is honored to join the Women’s Network in Cote d’Ivoire at the official presentation of recommendations to Ivoirian institutions and government on new opportunities for women’s leadership in political processes. A priority among those recommendations is support for the Ivoirian Parliament to enact a gender quota to increase the participation of women in government.
Through the Global Women’s Leadership Fund (GWLF) – sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) – IFES empowered women civil society leaders to advocate for the integration of gender into nascent electoral systems and democratic processes.
“As the GWLF project comes to an end in Cote d’Ivoire, IFES is confident that the Women’s Network will use the networking and advocacy skills it has developed to continue to advocate with representatives from Ivoirian institutions,” said IFES Senior Gender Specialist Jessica Huber. “IFES encourages these women to continue with this brave work, to include new ideas from broader coalitions of women and to build alliances with women and men who have the power to make these important changes for gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
The Ivorian Women’s Network was created in October 2012, on the basis of common concerns held by women in civil society. IFES helped the Network connect with women in different decision-making roles – namely in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CDVR), the Independent Election Commission (CEI) and, most recently, in the Ivoirian Parliament. IFES then conducted a training seminar on advocacy techniques for members of the Women’s Network, CEI and CDVR. This training built skills in negotiation and networking that will help these organizations implement meaningful changes.
“By focusing on advocacy, IFES provided this great opportunity to reinforce our capacity so that we can help strengthen the voices of our sisters and ourselves to reject inequality in our communities,” said Dosso Mafelina, member of the Women’s Network.
For the past several weeks, members of the Women’s Network have visited with members of Parliament and received widespread support for their recommendations. The Women’s Network has created momentum for increasing women’s political participation and Ivorian leaders are responding positively. Direct engagement and networking gave the opportunity for the Women’s Network to create and today formally present a declaration that outlines recommendations to Ivoirian institutions and government on supporting new opportunities for women’s leadership in political processes. The declaration makes recommendations on access to information, mechanisms for meaningful participation of women and gender parity and quotas.
In addition to Cote d’Ivoire, IFES has worked with women in Burma and Libya to effectively engage in negotiations with both governmental and nongovernmental actors. All three countries face similar challenges and opportunities as they engage in peace and transition processes.
Over the last 25 years, IFES has worked to ensure men and women participate equally in political processes as voters, candidates, election administrators and civil society leaders. IFES pursues gender equality in all of its work to better understand the gender dimensions of political and electoral processes, to promote gender equality through specifically articulated outcomes, to expose the barriers to women’s full participation in political and electoral processes and to help identify sustainable strategies to address the different needs and dynamics of men and women.
As the global leader in democracy promotion, IFES advances good governance and democratic rights by providing technical assistance to election officials; empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process; and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. Since 1987, IFES has worked in over 135 countries, from developing democracies, to mature democracies. For more information, visit www.IFES.org.