The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) provided 28 members of the West Africa Elections Observation Team (WAWEO) with requisite skills to observe and report on the forthcoming presidential elections in Sierra Leone and Ghana in November and December 2012 respectively.

WASCI
WASCI

This was achieved through a five-day training on Gender-Sensitive Elections Observation, Reporting and Policy Advocacy. The training was organized by WACSI with the support of IBIS West Africa, The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and Women in Peace and Security Network Africa. The training took place at the WACSI Training Centre in Accra from September 24 ? 28, 2012.

The 33 participants who took part in the training were West African women selected from civil society organisations and women from thirteen West African countries who have contributed in electoral processes across the sub-region. Participants were convened under the umbrella of WAWEO, a West African elections observation team that engages in electoral processes and collects information using a gender focused lens.

The training provided WAWEO members with requisite skills in gender-sensitive elections observation, gender disaggregated data collections, reporting and policy advocacy skills.

Prof. Esi Sutherland, Board Member of WACSI who chaired the closing ceremony and awarded participants with their certificates urged WAWEO members to utilize the knowledge acquired from this training judiciously. She encouraged them to be conscious of the cultural realities in the sub-region and to support other women to withstand the rough political environment.

The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner and Executive Director of the Women in Peace and Security Network for Africa (WIPSEN-A), Ms. Leymah Gbowee, paid a visit to the training centre to encourage participants to hold on to the vision of WAWEO. She encouraged them to be focused in their roles as gender-sensitive election observers, using it as a means to secure a better future for younger generations by promoting democracy within the sub-region.

The training served as a platform to prepare WAWEO for deployment to observe forthcoming elections across West Africa, specifically the November and December 2012 general elections in Sierra Leone and Ghana respectively.

Participants appreciated this initiative which has a unique focus on creating a platform that would promote the political participation of all groups in society, especially women. Ms. Sarjo Camara, a Gambian journalist and elections observer who observed the elections in Liberia pointed out that ?WAWEO plays a critical role in electoral processes by observing and reporting on issues that might not be given due attention although they make a valuable contribution in determining democratic trends in the sub-region?.

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