Customized Gender and Elections WorkshopMay 21, 2015
Opening Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
Zineb Touimi -Benjelloun
Chairperson Ms. Lefterie Luzi,
Honored members of the Commission,
Staff of the CEC secretariat,
Representatives from civil society,
It is my pleasure to welcome to you this event taking place in the run-up to the 2015 local elections. The issues of women in politics and women in leadership roles are topical in Albania. Both UNDP and UN Women are among the international partner organizations that support a variety of activities and programs furthering the status of women and girls in Albania. This includes programming related to elections.
I am honored to be joined in remarks this morning by the Chair of the Central Election Commission, Ms. Lefterije Luzi, under whose leadership the CEC has taken a serious approach to issues of gender in elections, including putting forward an ambitious package of proposals to facilitate and increase the role of women in the political and electoral process. While this package is perhaps overshadowed somewhat by the parliament’s recent decision to pass a much welcomed and mandatory 50% gender quota for the new municipal councils, it is nonetheless remarkable and important in its own right.
I am very pleased that UNDP and UN Women can avail the capacities and the tools available in BRIDGE to support the Central Election Commission. BRIDGE stands for Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections. It is a joint project of IDEA, IFES, the Australian Electoral Commission, the UN Electoral Assistance Division and UNDP. As such it is a unique combination of international capacities that the UN is proud to be in a position to provide to Albania.
I am also delighted that so many of you – both staff and members of the CEC – could make yourselves available during what we appreciate is an incredibly busy period for you. Over the next two days I believe you will be exposed to first-rate training program, led by our UNDP and UN Women staff and international BRIDGE facilitation experts.
What may make this training unique for you is that through the BRIDGE methodology, you will be guided in many ways to train yourselves and your fellow participants, as you explore the nature of gender issues in elections in Albania. While we have only two short days together, I feel that we – or rather you – will be identifying several priority areas where the role, skills and/or status of women can be improved – whether as voters, election administrators or aspiring public servants and future leaders. And coming out of this analysis, it is my sincere hope that the CEC can continue to develop ambitious strategies and programs in the areas of women participation and gender equality in elections, and lead Albania in continued progressive reforms in this field.
Again I would like to welcome you all, and wish you all success. Thank you.