Nukuʻalofa, Tonga – Tonga citizens will gather on 15 September, 2015 to recognize the International Day of Democracy in a day-long workshop of discussions, presentations, and breakout groups focused on ‘Making Space for Women’ in the country’s democratic institutions, particularly in local representative positions.
“International Day of Democracy is an excellent opportunity for the men and women of Tonga and other countries to recognize the universal value we call democracy, and to celebrate the country’s important strides to strengthen democratic processes and institutions” said Osnat Lubrani, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative.
“In countries such as Tonga, where women make up half of the population but are not equally present in elected office, this Day will highlight and promote the need for equitable participation in national and local elections as well as in public affairs.”
The Tongan theme for the 2015 International Day of Democracy is ‘Making Space for Women’, which will highlight the need to include women in the democratic process by encouraging them to become potential candidates to run in local elections slated for 2016.
The day-long activities will help prepare women to run as candidates in the 2016 local elections for District and Town Officers. It will be an opportunity to raise awareness of democracy by promoting the need for women’s participation in democratic and electoral processes in Tonga.
More than 30 men and women from across Tonga will participate in panel discussions and breakout sessions to discuss: Gender and Democracy in Local Governance, Lessons Learned from Past Elections, Running for Office, and Challenges and Opportunities Facing Potential Candidates.
The activities are a combined effort of Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, UNDP’s Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme and civil society groups. The activities follow similar democratization events, such as the Practice Parliament for Women, undertaken prior to the 2014 national elections.
The International Day of Democracy was created in 2007 when the United Nations General Assembly set aside 15 September as the day dedicated to promote and uphold the principles of democracy by raising public awareness of democracy and encouraging governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy and democratic principles.
In Tonga: Douglas Armour, Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme, Manager, tel: (+676) 881 2500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Fiji: Sheryl Ho, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, tel: (679) 322-7504 or email: email@example.com