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Women and decision – making in post-conflict transitions. Case Studies from Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands Sherrill Whittington Consultant Gender, Governance and Peacebuilding. post-conflict transitions.

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women and decision making in post conflict transitions
Women and decision –making in post-conflict transitions

Case Studies from Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands

Sherrill Whittington

Consultant

Gender, Governance and Peacebuilding

post conflict transitions
post-conflict transitions
  • Many post-conflict situations provide a unique opportunity to introduce a more inclusive political framework to advance women’s participation
  • Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, South Africa and Timor Leste, have greater female political participation than more highly developed countries such as the United States, France and Italy.
  • Lessons learned from the 2000-2002 transition period in Timor Leste can be used as a model for other states in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly the Solomon Islands
women in post conflict elections
women in post-conflict elections
  • This phenomenon of a high return of women in elections in many post-conflict transitions raises a number of key questions:
  • why and how is conflict an impetus to increased female representation?
  • whether such outcomes make a difference to overall transitional developments?
  • what processes and mechanisms have to be put in place to ensure longer-term sustainability of these results?
  • and how lessons learned and good practices can be applied elsewhere?
security council resolution 1325
Security Council resolution 1325
  • Women, Peace and Security,
  • … peace is inextricably linked to equality between women and men…maintaining and promoting peace and security requires equal participation in decision-making[1].
  • This applies to all decision-making from peace negotiations and peace accords, reconstructing or constructing systems of governance, security, rule of law, electoral, constitutional reform and developments.

[1]United Nations Security Council, 24 October 2000

governance
Governance

To ensure that it upholds gender equality as a basic tenet, there has to be:

  • a key policy-making mechanism strategically placed in government to influence decision-making,
  • a critical mass of women in representational institutions,
  • and a strong civil society component working with decision-makers to promote women’s rights.
democratic elections
democratic elections
  • central elements of peace-building are democratic elections and constitutional reform,
  • an inclusive, rights-based approach essential to promote gender equality and non-discrimination.
  • peace-building must be a participatory process that does not reconstruct what has failed, but develops a new paradigm for security, rule of law and governance, guaranteeing the protection ofwomen’s human rights.
timor leste an inclusive model
Timor Leste: An Inclusive Model
  • If women in Timor Leste were to have an integral role in nation-building following independence, it was essential that there be mechanisms and processes during the transitional period from 2000-2002.
  • There had to be an office in the transitional government which could evolve into a national machinery for women, supported by
  • a cohesive and representative network of women’s organizations,
  • and ultimately a critical mass of women representatives in the first freely elected Constituent Assembly.
  • Women’s rights and the principle of gender equality had to be guaranteed by the Constitution.
first congress of women of timor loro sa e
First Congress of Women of Timor Loro Sa’e.
  • The Congress convened in June 2000 by an umbrella mechanism, REDE, representing women’s organisations in East Timor, the first post-conflict gathering of women to discuss the most important issues in the reconstruction of their country.
  • Congress statement highlighted that although there”…has been a small increase in women’s participation in the socio-economic and political spheres, women’s absence from decision-making continues to result in the absence of a gender perspective.”
  • Platform for Action called for mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in government; a consultative process in constitution building; and the need for resources to be available to empower women in public decision-making and at all levels of the new government.
gender affairs unit
Gender Affairs Unit
  • The Gender Affairs Unit was in the United nations Transtional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), initially located in the Governance and Public Administration ,later part of the National Planning and Development Agency, had as its key focus ensuring the mainstreaming of the principle of gender equality in the transitional government of East Timor.
  • After independence, the Unit evolved into the Office for the Promotion of Equality, the women’s national machinery in the Prime Minister’s department, continuing the structure and many of the functions, programmes and activities put in place during the transition.
quotas and the elections
Quotas and the Elections
  • In March 2001, the East Timorese Women’s Network (REDE) submitted a proposal to the National Council, requesting that the Electoral Regulation for the election of the Constitutional Assembly include a quota of at least 30 percent women in the Assembly.
  • This quota reflected the overall 30%quota of women’s representation in public life and was a key area of their Platform of Action developed at the First Women’s National Congress.
quotas and the elections11
Quotas and the Elections
  • The National Council and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs rejected the proposal, because it contravened the United Nations definition of a ‘free and fair’ election.
  • Thus, the 2001 Electoral Regulation did not include any clause on affirmative action regarding quotas to ensure women’s participation in the electoral process.
  • The rejection was met with strong reaction from the East Timorese women’s groups based who protested and advocated for action.
affirmative action measures
Affirmative action measures
  • Affirmative action measures introduced to guarantee democratic principles of participation and place women in winnable positions on party lists, as well as incorporate women’s concerns into their party platforms.
  • Incentives, such as parties being allotted twice as much broadcast time if the additional time was used for women candidates, were offered.
  • Reinforced by training workshops by the United Nations Transitional Administration’s Gender Unit and UNIFEM, to prepare women to be candidates, with more than 250 potential women candidates participating from every district, and representatives from all major political parties as well as NGOs.
key mechanisms
Key mechanisms
  • Women’s Electoral Caucus developed from the workshops; provided follow-up support to women candidates, and economic and moral support to independent women candidates throughout the campaigning period, on election day, as well as assistance to those who were elected to the Constituent Assembly.
  • Gender equity working group formed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and U.N Gender Unit, to ensure that women fully participated in the process, not only as candidates and voters, but also as electoral administrators. IEC informed women at every level about job opportunities with the IEC.
  • All objectives and activities of IEC Voter Education, Training and Public Information Units, included gender sensitive timing for all training activities; development of materials that avoided sexist messages or images; creation of texts to empower women; and special training for women’s groups on electoral issues.
outcome of 2001 elections
Outcome of 2001 Elections
  • A remarkable 27% return of women to the Constituent Assembly, one of the highest, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but globally.
  • a new East Timorese government was of eleven ministers , with two women appointed to ministerial portfolios of Justice and Finance, a third was given the position for Vice-minister for Internal Administration.
  • Two women Advisers were appointed in the Office of the Chief Minister, one for the Promotion of Equality, the other for Human Rights.

.

constitutional and legal framework
Constitutional and legal framework
  • Working group on Women and the Constitution composed of several civil society organisations was formed and organised consultations with women’s groups all over the country on basic issues affecting women in East Timor.
  • A Women’s Charter of Rights in East Timor was agreed, written by East Timorese women representing different districts and organisations ;
  • The Charter was presented to the Members of the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting of the first Constitution just after the elections.
  • The Gender Constitutional Working Group monitored the drafting process and advocated for the ‘Women’s Charter of Rights’.
consolidation
Consolidation
  • The Office for the Promotion of Equality (OPE) has received bilateral and multilateral support, particularly from Ireland Aid, UNFPA and UNIFEM.
  • UNIFEM implemented a ‘Programme on Enhancing Rural Women’s Leadership and Participation in Nation Building’, to empower communities in rural areas.
  • The Timor-Leste Government passed an electoral law in 2003 providing two seats on each village council specifically for women and enabled women to stand for any other positions, including village chief. At the village elections in May 2005, 90 women were elected as Councilors, an average of three women per village
consolidation17
Consolidation
  • Oxfam Australia and UNIFEM also supported four preparatory regional congresses that led up to the Second National East Timorese Women’s Congress, held from 27-31 July 2004.
  • Oxfam’s support, which paid for transportation, food and documentation, was a critical factor in enabling the regional congresses to go forward, filling a vacuum in donor involvement and thereby allowing the women’s network REDE Feto to reach out to its members at the grassroots level – women who felt the greatest impact from the conflict.
the solomon islands transition
The Solomon IslandsTransition
  • Despite the integral role women played in bringing about an end to hostilities they were not represented at the peace negotiations, in October 2000 in Townsville ;
  • Regional Assistance Mission for the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) July 2003 not regarded Security Council resolution 1325 as relevant, with no gender adviser appointed nor a gender unit established in the Mission.
  • No key coordinating mechanism during this transitionary period to further women’s rights, and facilitate the inclusion of women’s priorities in planning and decision-making
current challenges
Current Challenges

The challenge now is to strengthen all areas of women’s representation:

  • the Women’s Development Division in the Ministry of Home Affairs;
  • capacity building and support of the key women’s civil society network, the Solomon Islands National Women’s Council,
  • and the election of women into the Solomon Islands Parliament, which is currently one of six Pacific island countries without female representation.
policy and machinery of government
Policy and Machinery of Government
  • Before 2001 elections Women’s Development Divisionunder the Ministry of Women, Youth and Sports Development headed by the Minister, Hilda Kari, the only women parliamentarian;
  • Minister’s failure to be re-elected in the 2001 elections WDD was relegated to the Home Affairs Ministry and now extremely marginalised from key policy and decision-making areas of government.
  • No capacity to formulate, implement and monitor national strategies for gender equality and empowerment of women, to facilitate mainstreaming of gender equality national policy,or oversight of legislative reform.
women and the electoral process
Women and the Electoral Process
  • No women in 50-member National Parliament or in any of the Provincial Assemblies.
  • In order to redress this, preparations for the forthcoming elections, scheduled for the middle of next month, have been undertaken by the Solomon Islands National Council of Women (SINCW) with support from AUSAID and UNIFEM.
funding for campaigns
Funding for Campaigns
  • Raising sufficient funding to participate in elections is extremely difficult. Difficult to compete for funding against males.
  • Fifteen women candidates. According NCW General Secretary Ella Kauhue, one of the biggest challenges is enough money to support campaigns, especially since women want to run a clean campaign and neither give nor receive bribes.
  • Some women candidates have withdrawn because of the increasing demand for money by their supporters – a request which they could not afford.
conclusions and recommendations
Conclusions and Recommendations

Crucial window for women to consolidate gains made during struggle and period of conflict, to embed their values and priorities into national reconstruction :

  • a blueprint for a plan of action for post-conflict empowerment of women be developed with mechanisms and processes agreed to and supported by multi and bilateral actors;
  • Regional fund should be established to train and support potential women candidates, and to provide civic and electoral education;
conclusions and recommendations24
Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Good practices and lessons learned should be collated and incorporated into training and resource packages, with expertise available to provide immediate assistance to women decision-makers and those aspiring to political office;
  • There should not be a situation as is currently in the Solomon Islands where there was only short-term, non-sustainable support, and the National Council of Women is without resources and expertise to support female candidates on the eve of the elections;
conclusions and recommendations25
Conclusions and Recommendations
  • CAPWIP should be enabled to play a key role during these transitions, by being a key facilitatory mechanism for women from the Solomon Islands for example, being able to learn from experiences in Timor Leste and Bougainville;
  • A database of good practices from the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere, of expertise and resources that can be called upon to support women in their quest for leadership;
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