News from the Network
Buka Urban strengthens collaboration with BWF to promote more women in the 2016 LLG elections
Story by Hamidan Bibi, CLGF Pacific Gender Consultant
A recent FLOW mission to Buka, Bougainville helped create further linkages and opportunities between CSOs, in particular Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF) and Buka Urban Council to actively engage more women in various projects and activities undertaken by both parties. Activities initiated range from promoting greater opportunities for women to be trained in leadership roles, including LLG elections, governance, micro-finance schemes, citizenship education, SMEs, collaborating in sports for all programs, market improvement initiatives, empowering young women in way of providing opportunities for work place attachments, sharing of data, in particular gender disaggregated data of workplace or employment in Buka urban as well as women’s dignity programs, including health and sanitation , and representation of BUC in committees.
Participants were pleased to be able to share initiatives as this opportunity provided an avenue to further strengthen and advance their gender action plans as well as help reduce duplication of efforts and resources.
Speaking at the discussion, Officer in charge, Buka Urban Council, Mr Felix Brian said that the dialogue was an important step towards ensuring more women being able to participate in the up-coming local level elections (council and CoE). “Women have been left behind as far as council elections was concerned and this collaboration would certainly assist in council’s work in ensuring women became fully engaged and remained active citizens”, he stated.
He said that women played an important role in building Buka town. “They were frequent users of town facilities in many ways, including being business owners and thus it was important they were represented at various leadership roles within the BUC executive. However, alot of planning and advocacy work needs to be done before that and this collaboration would surely provide for that”.
The FLOW mission also provided an opportunity for women to reflect on the recently conducted national elections, which witnessed 34 women candidates contesting. Four women won seats, including an open seat. New candidates also won the three reserve seats. This has led to ARoBG having a female deputy Speaker and a female MP looking after community development.
Participants were also able to develop ideas on how they would like to promote more women to contest elections and or generally participate in LLG elections by developing tailor-made advocacy and communications tools. This activity also served as a reflective exercise for participants who had lost in the national elections. Participants shared lessons learnt from the national elections and suggested improvements needed to help increase women’s and girl’s participation in all aspects LLG elections.
The three-day workshop was opened by Mr Herbert Kimai, Head of Provincial and LLG Department, ABG, who emphasised the support towards inclusive participation at LLG levels, in particular spoke of government’s commitment to ensuring greater representation of women at leadership levels. He was thankful of the opportunities rendered through Pacific FLOW program initiatives.