The Women’s Election Mechanism for Peace: Training of Trainers

By Published On: 29th April 2024

A collaborative effort led by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, Media Monitoring Africa, and the South African Women in Dialogue organized a four-day training of trainers for the Women’s Election Mechanism for Peace (WEMP) from April 11th to 14th 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Over the course of the training, WEMP peace monitors engaged in a comprehensive program aimed at fortifying their capacity to safeguard democracy and promote inclusivity in electoral processes.

At the heart of WEMP’s mission lies a resolute commitment to advancing women’s rights and gender equality within the realm of peace and security. This training initiative was not merely a forum for theoretical discourse but a platform for tangible action and empowerment. The sessions delved into the intricacies of women’s meaningful inclusion in peacebuilding efforts, emphasizing the importance of amplifying the voices of all vulnerable groups in discussions surrounding democracy and peace.

One noteworthy aspect of the training was its focus on addressing the specific challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in exercising their democratic rights. Organizations like Blind SA played a pivotal role in shedding light on the obstacles encountered by visually impaired individuals during elections, such as the inherent difficulties in casting their votes. Thandile, a representative from Blind SA, encapsulated the essence of their advocacy, stating, “We want our partially blind people to be safe both physically and emotionally.”

By fostering awareness and understanding of these challenges, the training endeavoured to foster a more inclusive electoral environment.

Against the backdrop of South Africa’s historical journey towards democracy, the imperative to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process looms large. Training initiatives like WEMP serve as barricades against threats to democracy, ensuring that gatekeepers are equipped to uphold its principles. Throughout the sessions, participants grappled with concepts such as election mediation and the pivotal role of effective communication in conflict resolution.

“Peaceful management of conflict is, in its very essence, a communicative act,” Ms Allison Lazarus, Lead Trainer for WEMP aptly noted, highlighting the fundamental importance of dialogue in fostering reconciliation.

Central to the training was a deep dive into the contextual nuances of South Africa’s freedom struggle, providing attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the country’s democratic landscape. Discussions on democracy indicators, combating disinformation, and navigating online harms underscored the multifaceted challenges inherent in modern electoral processes. By equipping peace monitors with the tools to navigate these complexities, the training aimed to bolster their effectiveness as advocates for democracy and equality.

Throughout the sessions, attendees engaged in vibrant conversations about everything from election mediation to combatting disinformation in the digital era. Peace monitors were given practical tactics and skills for conflict resolution and good communication, allowing them to confidently handle the complexity of electoral processes.

The training demonstrated the larger impact of initiatives such as WEMP in cultivating a culture of civic engagement and accountability. By allowing women and vulnerable groups to actively participate in election processes, these programs help to establish more resilient and inclusive democracies.

As the training drew to a close, participants embarked on a profound journey of discovery, gaining insights into the intricate dynamics of electoral procedures. Armed with a newfound understanding of peace frameworks, mediation strategies, and democracy metrics, they emerged as catalysts for positive change within their communities. Empowered to champion the cause of inclusivity and integrity in elections, these peace monitors stand poised to shape a brighter future for South Africa and beyond.


By Nande Mbekela, Intern Communications,

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