UNDP Project receives AwardMay 24, 2016
A UNDP executed Project ‘Strengthening Women’s Representation in National Leadership’ received an award today at the 6th annual ESRI User conference in Belize for its support to mapping 2015 general election results, specifically regarding women’s representation. Receiving the award were Ms. Joan Burke- Chair, Women’s Issues Network Belize and Ms. Karen Bernard, Deputy Resident Representative- UNDP Belize.
SDG5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) calls for ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life. Women’s political participation and representation are essential to ensuring women’s human rights and are recognized as such by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. To this end, during the period 2012 to 2015, the Strengthening Women’s Representation in National Leadership Project was implemented. This project aimed to break some of the inherent barriers that women in Belize face in entering electoral politics through strong advocacy and policy change. The project was implemented by the Women’s Issues Network Belize (WIN Belize) and funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF). One of the key messages delivered to the audience at the 2016 conference is that geography is key to our development and that national spatial data infrastructure is key in the attainment of the SDGs.
The year 2015 was unprecedented for women competing at the electoral polls in Belize. Though comparatively small in numbers, a significant 14 percent of candidates were women. This was the highest representation of women at the polls in the country’s history. To capture this achievement as well as historically track women’s progress in the electoral process, the project supported the use of the ArcGIS platform to track electoral results with a specific focus on women’s representation. This app was utilized by major media houses in broadcasting and providing update on election proceedings monitoring representation nationally. The Belize General Elections application and the Belize Elections ArcGIS Online portal are two innovative solutions that were developed by Total Business Solutions Limited to present historical and current data on the Belize electoral process from independence (1981) to date.
UNDP has supported several initiatives in Belize to increase the participation of women in electoral politics. In 2012, UNDP and the National Women’s Commission (NWC) launched the Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize “Toward Equality of Opportunity for Equality of Results”. The analysis provided a snapshot of women’s representation in electoral politics in Belize, as well as an analysis of the current political and policy context and structural barriers affecting women in the political process. The report called for an advocacy strategy to identify best practices and analyze the current situation in Belize and stimulate a public dialogue on women in politics in Belize.
As a result, the General Elections portal provides statistics on women who have participated in Belize’s electoral politics since 1984 to present and will support with future tracking of the results on the interventions for women’s participation. The app shows the historical trend of women participation in the electoral process from post-independence including participation, geographical distribution, voter turn-out and results of the elections. The app also shows registered voters by gender and the results for each constituency for the past seven elections. This provides advocacy organizations like WIN Belize with analytical data to determine in which constituency women are more dominant at the polls as hence strategically intervene to ensure quick wins. Likewise, the geo-referencing of this key developmental indicators has supported the strengthening of the advocacy capacity of WIN Belize in using evidence to recommend further action in advancing women’s representation in national leadership.