The BRIDGE TRAINING FRAMEWORK……an essential element in enhancing the capacity of elections personnel in Liberia.
By: Joey T. Kennedy
Director of Public Information & Outreach
National Elections Commission
The Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) is a modular professional development program with a particular focus on electoral processes. BRIDGE continues to play an expressively important role in building the capacity of senior, middle and low level employees of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Such trainings are done on a regular basis by the National Elections Commission in collaboration with the UNDP/EU and IFES and their impact continue to manifested through the changes they unfold in the electoral cycle of the country.
In 2012 BRIDGE Trainings have transformed and enhanced the delivery potentials of senior managers of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
At the close of a four-day workshop held from 28-31 August 2012 under the “post-election and legal framework Module of the BRIDGE Training framework, the Participants who included heads of Civic and Voters Education, Public Information and outreach, Political Liaison, Gender, procurement and logistics as well as Deputy Executive Directors and senior managers from the field operations section of the commission expressed delight over the content of the module.
During the course of the training, participants were drilled into issues related to the sustainability of the Electoral Process, electoral law and regulations, the basis for internationally recognized electoral standards and the limit of suffrage.
Other issues discussed include the process of counting and tabulating elections results, campaign finance and expenditures, assets, services, funding and other elements that are essential to the conduct of a credible electoral.
The participants also assessed electoral practices in the jurisdiction of other electoral management bodies.
That was the second in a series of BRIDGE workshops held for employees of the National Elections Commission this year. The first was held in July for middle level employees of the institution.
From 17-21 September, the Director of Gender at the commission, Atty Roselyn Nagbe-Kowo, will attend a BRIDGE training on Gender and Elections in Saly, Senegal. This training will bring together participants from West and Central Africa and is expected to focus on gender mainstreaming in political and electoral processes.
The aim of the Senegal training is to sensitize electoral administrators about the importance of women’s empowerment and entry points for gender mainstreaming in the electoral process, informing civil society organizations and women’s advocacy groups about strategies to promote women’s participation in electoral processes, proving tools for all participants to critically assess elections from a gender perspective and offering a networking opportunity for women’s advocacy groups.
The Gender training in Senegal is being sponsored by the UNDP Global Program on Electoral Cycle and the UNDP Regional Service Center
A BRIDGE training for Electoral Contestants (political parties), youth groups and staff of the External Relations Division of the NEC is also scheduled to take place in late September, this year.
This training is aimed at increasing the mechanism for communication between the NEC and political parties; improving the electoral knowledge of political parties regarding principles, structures and processes as they affect both the NEC and political parties and examining conditions required to guarantee equitable access to media. The appropriate use of campaign finances in order to establish a level playing field for all contestants is a major element of this phase of the BRIDGE training.
Other trainings earmarked for the rest of the year include introduction to electoral administration HY-BRIDGE I AND II as well as a Gender and Elections Training to enhance strategies for raising awareness on the importance of promoting women’s participation in electoral activities
These strings of capacity building activities under the various modules of the BRIDGE Training Framework are being facilitated by certified BRIDGE trainers from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the United Nations Development Program and the Training Section of the National Elections Commission.
It represents a unique initiative where five leading organizations in the democracy and governance field have jointly committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the most comprehensive curriculum and workshop package available, designed to be used as a tool within a broader capacity development framework.
The goal of BRIDGE is topromote and support democracy and good governance through multi-stakeholder learning, dialogue and networking.
It is a global partnership that includes the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD).
BRIDGE is intended to complement and enhance existing multi-sector, cross-cutting or sector specific] democracy and governance initiatives and reforms in target countries. It is designed to be integrated and used in the context of existing national reforms, agendas and programs.
BRIDGE is used by agencies engaged in supporting State and non-state capacity development for democratic governance, Specific governance reforms (such as decentralization, public administration reform, etc.), social accountability and voice at national and sub-national levels, Parliamentary development and increased capacity of lawmakers, Civil service capacity development and reform, Civil society development and increased civic engagement, Human rights and advocacy, Gender equality and women’s empowerment advocacy and programs, Youth participation and empowerment as well as Civic education.