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Protocol Training for Women in Local Government

Protocol Training For Women in Local Government Election

Network moves to develop competence in political sphere

Protocol Matters – this is the title of a skills development programme for female candidates in the July 26 Local Government elections. It takes place from 9.30 am Monday (July 19) at the International Relations Boardroom of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

A project of the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, the non-partisan workshop which will attract more than 50 candidates across party lines will be facilitated by protocol consultant Lenore Dorset, with Network coordinator Hazel Brown and international relations director, Dr Kris Rampersad. Candidates from all three political parties contesting the elections are expected to attend.

“Clearly, one of the major issues that surfaced in the recent national and likely to surface in the current local campaign has been how women can impact the political environment and sphere”, said Dr Rampersad, noting that there is an unacknowledged national disenchantment with the political culture and the ways in which politics is practiced and how political campaigns are conducted. She said the workshop will help sensitize women candidates to these issues, prepare them for potential challenges and provide strategies on how to avoid them and instead tool candidates on how to positively impact the political sphere in which they function.

“We believe that adoption of protocols and ethics of practice can also serve to help alleviate problems of crime, poverty and strengthening democracy; especially if instituted from the local government levels which are particularly close to communities which are the incubators for persons who would enter public life.”

The project is part of the Network’s campaign to ‘engender’ local government and increase not just the numbers but also the quality of women candidates in the elections. Brown stated that the Networks aim is for 50-50 participation by women in each of the next local government councils - that is 68 elected councilors and 16 aldermen, as well as a female Mayor for Port of Spain which has never had a woman Mayor. “At present there is only one female Mayor (in Chaguanas), one female Deputy Mayor (San Fernando), and one female Chairman (at Tunapuna). There are three councils: Mayaro and Penal/Debe, which have no women councilors - elected or aldermen, and Siparia which has no elected female councillors and only one female alderman.”

She noted that 85 women will contest the 2010 local government elections to take place on Monday July 26, 2010. This number is five less than the total number of women contesting in 2003. The number of seats to be contested has been increased from 124 to 135, in 14 municipal Corporations in Trinidad. As in previous elections the PNM has fielded the largest number of women - 47, while the People’s Partnership has put forward 38 (26 from UNC and 12 from COP.)

At present there are 38 women out of 124 elected councilors and five aldermen out of 31 positions, in local government. While this represents a 100% increase over the 1996 figure, it is significantly below the stipulated 50:50.

The Network anticipates that this part of its political skills training programme, will help provide a critical mass of competent, effective, gender sensitive, committed women politicians to influence decision making in local political bodies and pass on to other elected or appointed representatives as well as to help create an enabling environment for women’s effective participation in decision making processes.

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