Why Such A Project?
Gender justice, parity and partnership in politics are central to the functioning and strengthening of democracy. Indeed, only joint and equitable political action by women and men can guarantee that politics truly interprets and responds to the needs and aspirations of society as a whole. Men and women bring to politics a different flair and different political priorities. Society as a whole stands to benefit when women are more equitably involved in the political process. There is a need to motivate more young people to participate in the electoral process.
This project takes a comprehensive multi-dimensional approach to transforming politics through the increased participation of women and young persons in the electoral process. There is an obvious need for the transformation of gender hierarchies through the empowerment of women and gender balanced participation by both men and women in political decision-making.
There is an obvious need for a gender-sensitive, mainstreaming approach to policy and infrastructure development with a more equitable distribution of social, cultural and economic resources. Research on the status of women in Parliament in Trinidad and Tobago conducted by the Network during its Women’s Parliament Forum project confirmed that women’s input is considered vital for campaigning and voting. Political parties do not however, as a matter of policy, undertake to ensure that the selected candidates include a specific percentage of women. Arguments about women’s unavailability and reluctance to contest are advanced as reasons why women’s participation is so limited.
Campaign financing is a major obstacle to women’s political participation. The Network has established (developed in Nigeria and in collaboration with the 50/50 campaign) an innovative methodology for providing campaign funds for women. It will build their networking skills and accountability to the constituency of women who support them while producing other beneficial social and economic outcomes for women.
The projects main beneficiaries therefore are women political activists and women interested in elected and appointed office, youth and first-time voters and the general public whose awareness and knowledge of the role of women in politics will be enhanced. UNDEF supports this project (an extension of the Women’s Parliament Forum, an initiative of the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women) based on the continued work by the Network, (starting in 1997), in promoting the Beijing Platform, CEDAW, the CARICOM Plan for Gender Equality, the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality and as follow-up to the Summit of the Americas.